New environments and lifestyle can be daunting to some people, especially if you are in a foreign country. For INTI International College Subang students Wan Hein Yein, also known as Ridhwan Iqbal, and Rafah Muhammad, the experience has been a unique one, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan and Eid celebrations.
Ridhwan, a final semester student in the Bachelor of Finance and Accounting programme in collaboration with University of Hertfordshire, UK, never thought that moving to another country would be a blessing in disguise for him and his family.
“Back in 2012, there was a crisis in Myanmar and the disputes between the Muslims and Burmese made it difficult for Muslims to live there because racism was pervasive across the country,” he said.
He said the journey began when his father sent all five siblings to pursue their education in Malaysia.
Rafah Muhammad (left), a student pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Graphic Design programme in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, UK, at INTI International College Subang posing with her twin sister, Hebah Muhammad.
“Everything started to fall into place when I completed high school at one of the international Islamic schools in Malaysia. In between, I also completed my tahfiz and Quran education before finishing high school and later continued my diploma and bachelor’s degree at INTI International College Subang,” he said.
In August 2018, Ridhwan officially began his academic journey at INTI International College Subang as a diploma student.
“Being away from home and experiencing a different culture was interesting, especially since I was also quite young at the time. As an introvert, I didn’t really know how to socialise and communication barriers made it tough as well,” he said.
But things changed when he started to mingle with students for the International Cultural Night in 2019 which was hosted by the INTI International Student Club (ISC) at INTI International College Subang.
“I was a backstage helper for the event and that was when I got to meet some incredible friends from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Then we planned trips to Penang and Malacca, among other activities, which fostered a closer bond among us.
“During Ramadan we hosted an event and broke fast together. We tried to make the fasting month this year as festive and memorable as possible,” said Ridhwan who is treasurer of the ISC.
When asked about how he spent his time during Ramadan, he shared that besides activities with family and friends, he also received an invitation from a friend to lead tarawih prayers.
“This Ramadan I led the tarawih prayers at one of the mosques in Shah Alam. After tarawih ends at around 11pm, I will meet up with friends from the ISC online and then sleep for an hour before waking up for tahajjud prayers at around 3am. Then I will have my suhoor and go back to sleep,” he said.
As compared to previous years, he was grateful that he was able to celebrate Eid with his family in Myanmar this year.
For Rafah Muhammad, a student pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Graphic Design in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, UK, at INTI International College Subang, things were different as she celebrated Hari Raya away from home.
“While I was saddened that I was not able to meet with family this Eid, I looked forward to the Eid prayers, making desserts for friends, and travelling across Malaysia,” said Rafah who hails from Bangladesh.
Rafah, who is vice president of the ISC at INTI International College Subang, said the club open opportunities for her to get to know the INTI community and kept her busy.
“This Ramadan we got to gather and create memories through an iftar potluck and even team building activities,” she said.
Despite being away from family and her twin sister, she said she could still feel the spirit of togetherness, gratitude, and compassion.
Ridhwan Iqbal, a final year student pursuing the Bachelor of Finance and Accounting programme in collaboration with University of Hertfordshire, UK, at INTI International College Subang was invited to lead tarawih prayers at one of the mosques in Shah Alam during the month of Ramadan.
“I had planned to study with my twin sister at INTI, but she was accepted into another institution. This took a toll on me at the beginning of our time in Malaysia – it was one of the most difficult phases of my life. I struggled to connect with people until I met with counsellors at INTI and they helped me in any way they could,” she said, adding that they had advised her to join clubs to get to know more people.
According to Rafah, this Ramadan was quite hectic and adjust her schedule was challenging.
“I worked part-time during the first ten days of Ramadan. When classes started, my schedule was busy with classes, student club activities, and it was quite a challenge to arrange my schedule to move from one place to another. However, I managed to soldier through.
“I usually meet up with friends to finish up group assignments and any work for club activities before I head home. I would doze off at 10pm and wake up fresh the next morning,” she said, adding that she normally breaks her fast at home.
While she did not look forward to being away from home during Eid, she said it was a beautiful celebration nonetheless.
“My theme colour for this year’s Eid is light pink. I received a dress from my friend as I did not get to do any shopping for the celebrations this time around. The new semester, classes, and part-time job left me occupied, so I just bought jewellery and shoes to match the outfit,” ended Rafah with a smile.