This Singaporean Student Shares Her First Time Fasting In Melbourne


Qistina Bumidin •  Apr 13, 2022

It has been the second week of Ramadan, and we hope you've been basking in the beauty of this spiritual month. We continue with the third part of Ramadan Experiences, a segment at HHWT where we share people's stories and experiences in Singapore and all over the world during this special month ? This time around, we're headed Down Under to Australia! We spoke to Batrisyia Iman, a Singaporean student who is currently in Melbourne, where she shared with us what it's like fasting in one of our favourite cities ever! ?

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P.S. Did you miss out on our first two Ramadan Experiences articles? Don't worry! We got you covered right here!

Batrisyia's 1st Time Fasting In Melbourne This Ramadan 2022

1. Let us get to know you a little better! Where are you studying?

Credit: Batrisyia Iman

Hi my name is Batrisyia Iman! ? I am a second-year undergraduate student at The University of Melbourne. I’m doing a Bachelor of Science and I will be majoring in Vet Biosciences in my third year and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in my postgraduate years ?

2. What were some of the concerns you had prior to fasting overseas?

I consider myself pretty lucky because I have fasted overseas with my family during Ramadan! It was a trip to Perth a few years back, so I wasn't too worried about having to fast outside of Singapore. This time though, I will be fasting overseas alone, without my family, and it is a little daunting but at least I have my fellow Muslim friends with me ? I did have some concerns about not being able to wake up in the wee hours of the morning for sahur and finding halal food!  ?

3. What were some of the differences you've seen between fasting in Melbourne and back home in Singapore?

Despite Melbourne being two hours ahead of Singapore, there isn't much difference in terms of the number of hours we have to fast between both countries! ?So in Melbourne, I generally begin my fast from approximately 5 am (which is the subuh timing), and then iftar at about 6pm (which is the maghrib timing), so that adds up to about 13 hours, which is almost as long as how long we usually fast back home!

Credit: Batrisyia Iman

I've also realised that my worries about finding halal food in Melbourne are proven wrong! Melbourne is a melting pot of cultures, just like Singapore, so there's a variety of options for me to try! I'm only a student, and budgeting my money well is a priority for me, so when I feel like cooking at home, I usually head down to the nearby Victoria Market or explore other stores in Melbourne, where I buy my meats from Muslim-owned butcheries and other ingredients like prawns, garlic, onions, ginger and other ingredients as well! I'm no expert in the kitchen, so my recipes are really simple such as soups and aglio olio ? I'm trying to learn more recipes slowly ?

P.S. Western Australia has already opened up its borders, so if you're looking for some handy guides, check out these links below!

4. What are some of the challenges you face whilst fasting in Melbourne?

For starters, it's definitely waking up for sahur! ? Since subuh is at 5 am, I have to wake up at around 4.30 am, and with many assignments, quizzes and exams coming up, it does get pretty tiring. Back home, my parents were always the ones waking me up to have sahur together ? I really do miss having home-cooked meals with my mum, collecting porridge from the mosques, and also doing terawih as a family together.

Ramadan just isn't the same without them but I'm glad that I have a close-knit support group that keeps my loneliness at bay ? I recently became a member of my university's Islamic Society, and they provide free meal packs for iftar every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My friend and I would sometimes head down to the school to collect the meal packs and have breakfast with other Muslims from the University of Melbourne ?

5. What's your day-to-day routine for Ramadan like?

I would usually prepare my sahur the night before; just a simple meal consisting of bread with a jam spread and slices of cheese, and a few boiled eggs. I'll set my alarm at about 4.20am and heat up my sahur! Afterwards, I'll pray subuh and catch a few more hours of sleep till about 8:30am on a school day. I live only 2 minutes away from my university, so I'm lucky to have some sleep before I go about with my normal day; catching up with assignments and lectures ? If I'm planning to cook that day,  I would start cooking by 5 pm so that it will be prepared just in time for iftar. On other days, I'll just meet my friends at about 5:30p, and head down to a nearby halal restaurant for iftar. I'll call my family and friends back home to catch up with them before ending the night with some additional schoolwork or a Netflix binge  ?

6. Do you have any advice for those who are fasting overseas for the first time?

I celebrated my birthday in Melbourne this year! Credit: Batrisyia Iman

You definitely need a good circle of friends you can reach out to whenever you're feeling lonely! Have iftars with them and do your prayers with them if possible! Spending time alone overseas can be scary, but it still can be enjoyable and less lonely when you hang out with the right type of people! If you're a student like me, I encourage you to join your university's Islamic society clubs as they usually host iftar and terawih sessions! It's also another platform for you to meet and expand your circle of friends that can help you get through Ramadan ☺️

During Ramadan, you might get emotional if it's your first time fasting alone without your family, like me! They are also thinking of you, and they miss you as much as you miss them too ? In a call with my dad, I asked him if the dinner table felt empty without me and he said yes. It made me a little emotional, but I always remember what's my purpose here in Melbourne, and that my loved ones back home are always just a call or text away ?

All in all, take things slow and reach out to your friends and family if you ever need anyone to talk to! ? Don't forget your obligatory prayers and make plenty of doa during this holy month of Ramadan; Insyallah, everything will be just fine! Remember to enjoy yourself while you're overseas as well; it's an opportunity not many are able to relish in ?

Batrisyia will be sharing a video about her daily routine in Melbourne during Ramadan, so stay tuned! How have you been finding the Ramadan Experience series so far? Let us know!