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The holy month of Ramadan in Islam is coming to an end for Muslims around the world. This annual period is marked by the fasting that occurs from sunrise to sundown for thirty days. During this time, I am very reflective and thankful for all that I have in my life, and I get to spend a lot of quality time with my family and friends. At the same time, as a college student, I have had to navigate new challenges that arose throughout this month. 

Balancing fasting and keeping up with schoolwork and classes is a lot more difficult than I often anticipate it being. Without food and water during the day, I often feel very weak, making it hard to get any work done. I also wake up around 4 AM to eat a large breakfast prior to beginning my fast; because of this, my sleep schedule is altered, and it is sometimes difficult to wake up in time for classes. I occasionally ask for extensions on assignments, but I sometimes feel guilty for using Ramadan as an excuse so often. While I dealt with some of these issues in high school as well, the rigor and time-consuming nature of college have exacerbated my fatigue while fasting. 

[bf_image id="wgctzcg9fwrm5mxkgt35h"] Despite these obstacles, Ramadan is a very important time of the year for me because I feel extra close to my religion during this time. The customs and practices, along with frequent trips to my mosque, provide an environment in which I am most at peace in. The freedom of college has also given me opportunities to enjoy Ramadan in new ways; I have hosted sleepovers with my Muslim friends where we stay up and feast before beginning our fast for the day. The breaking of the fast at the end of every day also brings the Muslim community together in a really memorable way. After a long day without food and water, everyone is in high spirits and extra grateful as we are finally able to eat and drink. The sense of accomplishment that comes after fasting for the whole month gives me a sense of confidence in my religious identity for the year to come.  [bf_image id="q7jtl1-dk7vhc-f5n8hl"] The end of Ramadan is marked by the holiday of Eid, where Muslims celebrate with festivities and food. It is a chance to get dressed up in cultural clothing and visit family and friends. It is a day I look forward to all year, with my family hopping from one social gathering to the next and catching up with different members of our community. 

In a few days, my life will return back to normal, but I will be counting down the days until the next Ramadan approaches. The cultural practices of my religion are very important to me, so I try to be very open about them with non-Muslims. Despite the national recognition that Ramadan gets from certain political and famous figures, most people in society are still unaware of the details surrounding this religious month. I hope to see this change as time goes on.

Zara Fatteh is a sophomore at University of California, Davis studying International Relations and Spanish. She enjoys traveling with her family, trying new restaurants, and reading as much as she can.
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