Ramadan is a time of year that most Muslims look forward to. It is a time to feel closer to God, become more charitable, identify with those who are less fortunate, embrace a sense of community and, of course, eat a large breaking-of-the-fast feast with friends and family. As much as I get excited for Ramadan every year, I couldn’t help but feel worried about it this year. This was the first Ramadan I had to fast in the midst of finals. While fasting during ordinary exams is tough, fasting during dental school exams is even worse because of their difficulty.
Like most college and graduate students, I am caffeine-dependent. Not having coffee in my daily routine definitely made studying a little more difficult. In lieu of sipping on hot espresso while furiously flipping through notes, I powered through studying with nothing but prayers for strength and power naps. I always read about the benefits of a 20–30 minute nap to gain energy, but I didn’t realize how effective it was until these past few weeks.
After arriving home from a long day of classes and lab, I would take a brief nap and then study for about two hours. My family would have Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan, around 8 p.m., after which I would study until 11 p.m. and go to bed. Suhoor, the meal that starts the fast, began at 4 a.m., so I would wake up, eat suhoor, pray and then take an hour-long nap, waking up to continue studying. While I wasn’t 100% myself with this method, I found it effective enough to get my studying done and continue fasting.
During Ramadan, I appreciate the luxury of having food, water and coffee on a daily basis because not all of us do. I realized that so many people in this world labor much harder than I do, and they’re not even guaranteed a meal at the end of the day. I may be eating for short periods of time, but it’s only for a month. When food and water are taken out of the equation, we are better able to reflect on ourselves, on our spirituality and our thoughts, and we become grateful for everything that we’ve been given. Fasting while taking finals was no easy feat, but I got through it. I would be prepared to do it all over again next year.
~Dana Aborahma, Texas A&M ’21