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My First Time in London and Getting Lost Already

It’s around 4:00am the morning of my third day in London. Having a few minutes before getting ready for this day’s program, I thought to share with you some memories of my first visit to such a big historical European city.

I came all the way from the hot-weathered eastern African city, Cairo, to the rainy western European city, London, with a heart full of expectations. Also with the most fearful and excited state of mind that one can ever have! I have never been to the West before; I only connected to it through my work, as an editor in a media outlet, or through my daily interactivity with foreigners in Egypt, and of course, through my readings that are mainly about life over there — on the other side of the world, as I imagined.

What have we got but expectations?

 Would the same picture I drew about life in the West be real? Is it too hard for an eastern woman wearing hijab to integrate in that community? How easy is it to get familiar with people, streets, and the lifestyle? Those were the only thoughts knocking around in my mind right after the plane took off from the Land of The Pyramids. The only thing that interrupted this stream of worries was the voice of the plane crew asking passengers to “Fasten their seat belt.”

Well fastened, I relaxed my body a little bit, switching off my mind’s worries by reading the travel supplication, and praying that it will be a useful, easy trip for me and everybody on board. Done with this, my belt gave me an idea. We should always fasten our life belt, meaning that we should be always ready for “the far go” but, a BIG but, with positive thoughts more than fears.


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Forget about the belt

To fear the stranger definitely hinders the self from the discovery, right? If I remained thinking about whether or not the belt is securely fastened and functioning, I would sure lose the chance to see the world’s beauty from the plane window. The same for being in a new land, if I kept  thinking about the negative news reporting on the West and Muslims, I might get too closed on myself, afraid to talk, to interact, or to test the presumptions that I had about that far side of the world.

The idea gave me an at-ease mood. Why am I freaking out over getting rejected because of my appearance or my Eastern features, when I have not even stepped one foot there yet? Yes, there are some quite bad news about Muslims facing problems in the West; but rationalize this with me – are all Muslims facing the same problems? Surely not! Just as there is negative news, Muslims also have positive contributions in the Western community on the other hand. They have a chance to do things. This goes without saying.  

Ah! So now what may need to be tested is the media reporting… Hmmm! Now we get some action to start the adventure. And this is actually the main purpose of my visit. I will explain more later… carry on, as they say.

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