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This Malaysian Student Shares What It’s Like To Study In The UK


Hazirah Hakeem •  Nov 14, 2023

This article is written by HHWT Explorer, Naim Hamid.

If you would like to share your story, travel experiences, tips or itinerary with the HHWT community, please fill in the form here

The UK is an ever-popular and well-known travel destination for travellers around the world, but do you ever wonder what it’s like to live there as a Muslim? We spoke to Naim Hamid, a Malaysian student who is studying in Newcastle, about his experiences living there, the vibrant Muslim community he discovered, and the resources available for Muslim students. The UK might be famous for its landmarks, but what's it really like to call it home? Naim shares his story here.

1. Can you share your background and what led you to pursue your studies in the UK?

Selfie with his Muslim friends

My name is Naim Hamid, and I’m from Malaysia. I’m doing my degree in fine arts in Newcastle. I'm pursuing this subject because it has been a passion ever since I was a little kid. Initially, I wanted to continue my studies in Malaysia but my parents suggested that I study overseas to get more experience and learn about different cultures.

2. What was your initial experience like when you first moved to the UK for your studies?

It wasn’t much different from my expectations. However, one thing that I was quite surprised by is how big the Malaysian community here in the UK is.

3. Could you describe the support and resources available for international students, particularly for Muslim students like yourself?

My university fortunately has a Muslim prayer facility, so it helps with Muslims with Friday prayers.

Campus picture

4. How easy or challenging has it been to find halal food options in the UK? Are there any favourite halal eateries you'd recommend?

There are some shops and restaurants that serve halal food. It’s mainly food like kebabs or Asian dishes. One of my favourite halal restaurants closest to my house is Chilli Padi, a Malaysian-owned restaurant that serves Malaysian dishes. My accommodation and school are also within the city centre, and thus everything is within a 10-minute walking distance.

Popular convenience stores, like Tesco, don't have halal options for meat, which can make it hard. However, there is a Muslim neighbourhood located 20 minutes from the city centre so I go there to get halal meat and more!

5. Have you encountered any misconceptions or stereotypes about your culture or faith during your time in the UK?

Personally, I haven’t. Majority of my coursemates are open-minded and understanding. Some friends in my course asked about my religion, my restrictions and so forth when we first met.

Picture of class

6. Have you faced any challenges in interacting with local people in the UK - e.g. in terms of possible Islamophobia or racism towards you?

I haven’t. I believe that most people are more open and curious about different cultures and faiths, and are not that judgemental.

However, I can't say that for everyone. A friend of a friend, who is also a Malaysian, was on the receiving end of Islamophobia, and experienced instances such as being asked to take her hijab off.

7. Can you share some memorable experiences or cultural exchanges you've had with local students or the wider community?

One recent memorable experience is the Palestinian protest. It shows how there are communities, even in the UK, that have no problems with Muslims and are also concerned with our collective well-being.

8. What advice or tips do you have for other international Muslim students who are considering studying in the UK?

Don’t be afraid as there will always be a Muslim community somewhere near you, and it won’t be that hard to find.

We are currently in an era where people are seeking to fix things. Some of the lectures in Art History talks about decolonisation – how Western people can fix their past mistakes of colonisation. I believe this also applies to the Western perception towards Islam. There are slowly starting to be more and more activities and events that are inclusive as well for Muslims.

Picture of him and his Muslims friends

9. In what ways has this experience broadened your perspective and enriched your life?

It’s always interesting to learn about different cultures and perspectives. Second to our Islamic faith, I believe life is all about learning and sharing because I am not just living for myself, I'm living for everyone. I constantly think of how I can help people with the things that I learn. It’s always nice to have a big community of different cultures and faiths that understand one another, and I believe it should exist in every place.

Picture of campus

If you would like to share your story, travel experiences, tips or itinerary with the HHWT community, please fill in the form here

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Have Halal, Will Travel.