On my first day at my new school, in a new country, I was terrified. I couldn’t comprehend anything. I had only known a bit of English which made me clueless to what anyone was saying. I missed my home and I missed my comfort. Questions where throw at me by other people, I had no clue how to answer them and I panicked.  One of the first questions I was asked was “how old are you?” Me thinking I knew how to say my age said “nine” when actually I was eight. Then a question followed asking when my birthday and I answered March, they started questioning me and how I was in this year when I was clearly older, as you can guess I had no clue what they meant so I said I don't know. Embarrassing really as after a few months they realised I was actually eight and thought I lied so I could be older. Not my intention really. To this day my mind goes back to how I felt in that exact moment and how I want to go back and consol the young me.


I had no friends which made things even worse during the rest of my first term. I mean who wanted to be friends with a girl who couldn't speak English anyway right?  I spent most of my lunches with teachers who I would speak to because I felt lonely or at a bench outside alone. I hated school at that point, I did everything I could to just skip it but it never worked. 


Christmas came around the corner and everyone was discussing what they were planning to do over the holidays and when my teacher asked me what I was planning I said “nothing, I don't celebrate Christmas,’’ this again shocked a lot of people and when I explained that I am Muslim and my traditions never included Christmas they were even more shocked and kept nagging for more answer to why I didn't celebrate. Explaining that part of my life, my culture and religion have always been the hardest as everyone had a million opinions on it that I didn't really care to hear but had to anyway.  


Last year when I was in year nine my maths partner asked me a question that made me think deeply before answering, she asked wonderingly “I always hear you say I'm going back home when you talk about going back to Saudi, but after all these years in England what is home to you?” I replied saying, “Saudi will always be home to me, my family, my culture, my blood and my name comes from there and my heart lies there, England, on the other hand, has taken care of me for so long now  I've lived and studied here for years, I love it here and I will always count it as my second home but as people say home is where the heart lies and Saudi is where my heart lies so that is why Saudi is home to me.”


Life in England was never an easy ride for me and took a toll on my character as you can see, but I will forever be grateful to my experience no matter how excruciating they were as I learned valuable lessons through them. My message to you is that no matter how hard life gets and no matter how hard your experiences are always grateful as they happen for a reason.  

by reem Ababtain