Comfort is Relative: Reflections from my Journey to the U.K.

Salaam all.

So, you may have noticed that I have not been so active the past week or so, and this is even my second late blog post this week. And it’s not even the right post for a Friday…

It is because I was on a short little trip back to London, U.K. where I was living and studying before I came over here to Algeria to wait with my husband for the rest of his U.S. visa case processing time.

The minute my plane’s wheels touched the ground in Gatwick, a huge smile began to spread over my face. I turned my phone on- internet, good service, I could call my mom or write a blog post, consult a map or do whatever I needed to do.

I get to my hotel: hot shower, running water, a soft, fluffy bed, carpet on the floor and a clean space in the kitchen. Heating quietly working in the background, a nice view of north-west London houses from my window.

As I travel around the city, everywhere I look I can see God’s blessings that I have taken for granted my entire life, but that I had been missing for the past six months in Northern Africa; cars that drive safely, sidewalks that you can actually walk on without falling into a pit or running into a parked car, people who don’t stare at you, men who don’t approach you even when you are dressed in a jilbab out with your husband.

Beauty, diversity, creativity, excitement, life.

Looking at all of these things and spending the week revelling in my “first world” luxuries, I began to reflect on exactly how relative our idea of comfort is.

I remember in 2015 when I was actually living in London and going to university there, I felt miserable. I had an awful flat-mate situation, I couldn’t find work anywhere because of my student visa, and the visa authorities dogged my every step to make sure I wasn’t even considering something that might even look like a violation of my visa.

School was rough and I wasn’t as interested in the subjects as I thought I would be, and I had a whole total of one Muslim friend in London that I saw every couple of months for a cup of tea and a catch up; the rest of the Muslim community had no space for me.

I even left the U.K. before my visa technically expired just because all I wanted was to get on with the next phase in my life, to stop feeling stuck in a rut.

But after living in Algeria, and coming back to the U.K. for a week (it was a trip to get things done like closing my bank account and clearing out my old room, etc.), I look fondly back on that year I spent there like it was a day in paradise.

This trip to London really made me remember what it is to be inspired and excited for life.

In Algeria everything is stagnant; they have even had the same president for the past 18 years! Every day I live there is the same as the day before it, and even if you try to go out and do something different, you are only going to get more of the same old, same old.

You can’t talk to anybody, you can’t reason with anybody. It is the same as it was 18 years ago and will be the same for the foreseeable future.

In London, however, everybody is creating something new every day, life is vibrant, and you can flourish in whatever you choose to do. Plus there were all the material comforts that I had been missing for the past six months.

I hadn’t even realised how much I had missed the creativity and the bustling life of London while I was living in Algeria, just like I didn’t realise how much I had to be grateful for when I was living there the first time. And conversely, while here in Algeria I don’t ever remind myself of the small things I love about being here like having in-laws close, having cats roaming the streets being cute, or hearing the athaan five times a day from my own room.

I have come home from this little trip loaded up with necessities (like shampoo and deodorant that is too expensive here), some little extras (good tea, a new notebook, chia seeds), and a whole load of much-needed perspective.

I can appreciate all the things I have had in all the various stages of my life, I can be grateful for the small pleasures in the present, and I am now looking forward to heading home to the states soon (inshaAllah!!) and seeing what the next phase has in store for me!

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