Saturday, March 31, 2018

My First Month in Korea as a Muslim

Image result for korea spring tumblr

"Think about your life and daily routines. 
What is the reason of your existence?

Are you meant to study half your life just to work the other half?
Be attached to people just to get your heart broken?
Get buried in the ground after all your worldly achievements,
like nothing ever happened?

Don't you think there's a purpose of your stay on earth?
Something that will result in what happens after your death?
Just stop for a while and think about it.

Perhaps you will realise life is nothing but a temporary illusion 
that fooled people into believing in the creation instead of the Creator.

There is more to your life. You have a much greater purpose.
Don't lose yourself by falling into delusions of this world.
Re-awaken your soul to its purpose. " 

February 19th, 2018, was the day when I arrived in Korea for the second time. If you're one of my readers, you know that I've visited Korea last year during vacation. But this time is different, now I am living in Korea as a KGSP student, university-student-to-be, a Muslimah in a strange country. I am currently studying the Korean language in Silla University before going to Korea University in Seoul, my dream university (for undergraduate, after Oxford University :p). It has been more than a month yet it still feels like a dream to me. I remember the days when I was in grade 12, I was holding my dreams so high every single day that I sometimes thought that I will never reach it. But Allah gave me so much more than I have ever wished for. 

"Be the kind of person who helps others
find the important things they've lost in life- their Deen, 
their smile, their hope, and their courage." 

My flight scheduled at 3 pm on Sunday, I needed to take three planes and two transfers: Jakarta-Singapore-Seoul-Busan. The NIIED (KGSP) bought the ticket for me so I couldn't change the schedule. I remembered, the day before my departure, I was having a fever and flu all of sudden. I was in very good condition before. I went to the hospital with my parents just because of the severe temperature in my body. We got the medicines, antibiotics, and etc just 4 hours before departure. I don't know if it's some kind of pre-home-sickness, nervousness or something but as soon as I arrived in Singapore, the fever is gone HAHAHAHA. Maybe the thought of leaving home was so overwhelming that I am feeling the pressure inside. I was worried whether I'll manage to survive in a harsh world of Korea and the bunch of obstacles that I will face academically, spiritually, physically, or socially, especially as a Muslimah, as a hijabi.

Did I feel any home-sickness, cultural shock, or anything? Surprisingly, no. It's more than a month already and I didn't cry even once. Yet? Idk. Yes, I did cry before leaving Indonesia, it's not because I am regretting my choice but as I said, the thought of living alone in an unknown world as a stranger is quite suffocating. But here I am, alhamdulillah. I do miss Indonesia, I miss my family, friends in deeds and deen!!! and ofc the foods (FOR THE SAKE OF SAMBAL BAWANG, AYAM PENYET, AYAM GEPREK AND NASI PADANG). Wkwkwk. The halal foods masha'Allah. I rarely eat chickens and beef here because not everything is halal. But good for me, I eat more vegetables and seafood here, I am (trying to) live a healthy life and walk around more. I was so lazy when I live in Indonesia because everything is sooooo easy and comfortable there. Halal foods everywhere, cheap transportations (a.k.a Gojek) who are willing to transport you from one place to another place, or my favourite... delivering our favourite foods at a VERY reasonable price. Oh, how I love Indonesia. I never left my comfort zone my whole life before.

Living abroad as a student before I even reach 20 is a dream come true. Living in a society where the majority is non-muslims (even atheists, to be precise) surely is a different challenge. Korea is a country where the majority of people are eating pork like I eat chickens in daily life and drink soju like I drink water on a daily basis. That's why I always said that studying abroad in Korea is both a trial and a blessing for me. I am proud of my religion. I am very proud of Islam and being a Muslim. Billions of people in the darkness and Allah chose you to be guided by His mercy. How can you not fall in love with His mercy? The love and pride that I have in my faith grow bigger and bigger it came to the point where I reflected on a lot of things, blessings and privileges that I have in Indonesia. I can find halal foods almost everywhere, literally everywhere. I can pray wherever I like: we have a lot of mosques and mushalla. I can hear adzan 5 times a day which soothes our soul. I didn't experience any weird look or discrimination because the whole majority are doing the same thing as I am, wearing the same clothing as I am, practising the same deen as I am.

"Being sinful is not something to be proud about,
and being righteous is nothing to be arrogant about."

I learned (and still) learned how to represent our deen the way it should be presented every single day. Although I am not perfect; my clothing is still not the way it is should be, my act and behaviour haven't yet portrayed what Prophet Muhammad SAW taught us to do, my speech hasn't benefited any of them, but at least I am trying to learn about myself and my religion more than I have ever done when I still have all those privileges. I seek refuge from Allah from any of my mistakes and wrongdoings. When I first came here on vacation, I never had this kind of thoughts. Well yes, I do have, but not this deep. Some of my friends never heard nor have a Muslim friend before, they told me they are actually afraid of Islam/Muslim because of what the media portrayed. All they have is bad thoughts and impressions. Well no wonder, I am not surprised at all. Even if I can't do a big thing in the future, at least I hope, my existence in Korea could help people understand more about the true Islam: it's not a religion of oppression, terrorism, or whatever you call it.

I got a lot of questions about Islam and hijab. The most common questions that I got so far are: "What?! You pray five times a day??? Wow you're so religious." I am not! Sometimes I wonder how performing five daily prayers can make you religious. It's obligatory. I am far from pious. I am just doing the basic thing that we should be doing as a Muslim. Or, "Do you have to wear that thing (hijab) every day? Can you take it off?" Yes??? and... No??? Wearing a hijab is my own choice and none of us is oppressed. We love hijaaab. Sometimes I laughed at how stupid the news that media makes about us. The news about us is so stupid that sometimes I and my hijabi friends (KGSP in Silla) make jokes about it. Rather than being offended, we laughed a lot to see all those stupid conspiracies. Well sorry to say, just my thoughts. "You can't eat pork?" or "Why can you eat chicken and beef but not *that* chicken and beef?" Yaaa because...why ya??? =)) Hahahaha.

"For you, I pray may your heart always 
be connected to the one who made it."

It's not easy to live in Korea as a Muslim. You will have a fewer option of foods and sometimes people will think you're strange; the way you dress, the way you eat, the way you do anything. But it's nothing about being strange, it's just that they're not getting used to it. And it's okay, we can't please everyone either. You could have the best intentions, and there would still be some, who will think the worst of you. Nevertheless, living in a non-religious country as a Muslim shouldn't discourage you from practising Islam. It shouldn't be an excuse for us to leave the teaching of Islam, our way of life. Instead, we should be proud of our deen. For insha'Allah, insha'Allah I promise, it will worth it in the end. Insha'Allah. May Allah forgive our mistakes and make us among the people that He loves. I am nothing but a sinner, if Allah had no mercy on me I would have been doomed a long time ago. Astaghfirullah.

"And I did not create the Jinn and Mankind

except to worship me. [Qur'an 51-56]"