Fasting, going to school, working, and enjoying it all

By Wiwin Hartini

It’s 3:30 a.m. and my alarm just went off. With my sleepy self, I try to gather all of my energy to eat suhoor (early breakfast). As Muslims, we fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset during Ramadhan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. I normally have avocados with an omelet or toast and drink four glasses of water. It’s also important to be ready mentally because fasting is not just about not eating and drinking during the day, it’s about self-control.

After I finish my early breakfast, I normally stay up and start working on my homework before going to school. Coming from a country where the daylight is constant throughout the year, fasting in the U.S. in the spring is a new experience for me. It’s 16 hours of fasting: from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. And it’s fasting by myself instead of with family.

At first, I thought it would be hard psychologically because it’s such a big celebration back in my home country but not as big in the U.S. Instead it has taught me to be more mindful about what I do, how I treat people, how I control my thoughts and emotions. It’s become a month of self-introspection.

There are many students at PSU who are fasting and going to school. For me, it’s never been this easy nor this hard before. Working 13 hours a week and going to school full time and commuting 3 hours every day keeps me very busy. As a slow eater, sometimes I’m grateful that I now have extra time to focus on things other than eating.

Two weeks have gone by, and believe me, it’s not always perfect. The reality is, I don’t always get up for the early breakfast even though I’d love to. I realized that I had to make a decision about whether to sleep or eat. And I chose to balance my schedule without breaking the main goal of fasting. I normally get home around 6:30 p.m. and take a nap to recharge. So, when I get to break my fast at 8:30 p.m., I can stay up until about 1 a.m. working on my schoolwork while snacking and hydrating.

What I learned is that fasting is not an excuse to do less, it’s a mental practice. When you have the mindset that you can handle challenges with a positive attitude, you’d be surprised by how much energy you have, even though you have to skip your favorite tacos.