Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tolerant Arabs!

Arabs and Muslims have all sorts of fingers pointing at them at all times. I’m also guilty for criticising Arabs for a lot of reasons. Today I am switching sides. This might be unpredictable but for me Arabs are more tolerant than Westerners.

I’ve been living in London for two years now and I’m half German therefore I traveled back and forth between Europe and the GCC since I was born. I’ve seen a lot of Arabs travel to western countries and westerners’ travel to Arab countries. Most Arab women wear the “Abaya” (the black cloak) in their own countries, but when they travel abroad most (not all) take it off to fit in with the western norm. They still wear the “hijab” (headscarf) for religious reasons but still most people give an effort to try to fit in. Most (not all) westerners who visit Arab countries don’t really care about the dress code. They still wear their short skirts, hot pants and low cut tank tops to bring out their girls, even though this is very disrespectful to Arabs. I hear a lot of westerners criticize the way Arabs dress in their countries from politicians, public figures and citizens. France banned the “hijab” in schools and other countries are trying to set similar laws. On the other hand, Arabs don’t really criticize westerner’s clothes in their countries but they do complain about the disrespect. Saudi Arabia is a different case, but I think they can demand westerners to cover up since France banned the “hijab” in schools. To me it’s only fair. But because Saudi is an Arab country they are called radical. In no way am I supporting Saudi here, I don’t like their laws either but I’m just saying. A Bahraini friend of mine who studies in the UK needed to renew her student visa, at the visa office she was asked to take off the “hijab” for the visa photo. I know that in the UK it is allowed for women that wear the “hijab” to keep it on for the visa photo but still my friend was asked to take it off.

As for Arab men, the beard is usually the problem. I know a lot of guys that shave their beards when they travel so they don’t get dirty looks at airport security. Personally, I don’t like beards but I think growing a beard is like spiky gel styled hair, it’s a matter of taste. Nevertheless a lot of Arab guys I know shave so westerners don’t fear for their lives. I call that tolerance.

In Bahrain and most of the Arab countries English is compulsory in “all” schools, from grade one till grade twelve. In western countries this is not the case. Students can choose language courses which are not usually compulsory nor are they required to learn the language from grade one till twelve. I do realize that English is a world language but still. I see Arabs and all other nationalities make an effort to understand “you” meaning the strongest western countries ie. The United States, Great Britain and other “westernized” countries such as Australia and Canada. I don’t really see an effort the other way round. I didn’t hear of a school in a western country that teaches Arabic, I’m pretty sure there is but since I didn’t hear anything about it, its one of the odds. What’s more, when Arabs immigrate to Western countries they normally go to public schools where they learn the language and integrate more or less in society. When westerners immigrate to Arab countries they send their children to their own schools. We have schools in Bahrain that are built by westerners for westerners where Arabic is not taught. There are some schools that teach Arabic but it is a joke. From the way I see it, Arabs give an effort to understand westerners but westerners don’t give an effort to understand Arabs. As for me, if I ever immigrated to a country the first thing I will focus on is to learn the language, that’s common sense to me but apparently not to everybody. Westerns in Bahrain expect Arab cashiers in supermarkets or waiters in restaurants to speak English to communicate with them. How ridiculous is that! You are in an Arab country you are the one who is meant to give an effort. For god’s sake buy a language handbook. I went to France last year; it took me a half an hour to explain my order to the waiter. I did not expect him to speak Arabic nor English. I expected him to speak French because he is French. I used sign language and a handbook but that’s how it is when you travel.

A lot of international music is played on Arabic TV and radio channels; I haven’t heard Arabic music on Western channels. If you shop in malls in Arab countries you are forced to listen to international music weather you like it or not. Fortunately for me I do but it’s not the case for everybody. And believe me, there are lot of Arabs who listen to the music even though they don’t really understand what is being said, which is the very reason why Arabic music is not being played on Western channels. Then again, a lot of Arabs do understand, and most of the music lyrics are disrespectful in the Arab culture or prohibited by Islamic teachings. S&M by Rihanna and Tonight (I’m loving you) by Enrique Iglesias to name a few.

As everywhere around the world, going to the movies is something the Arabs love to do. The most watched movies are Hollywood or British movies even though there are Arab productions. The English speaking movies are subtitled and the sex scenes are cut out. Four years ago, they used to cut the kissing scenes too but not anymore. Even though these scenes are a strict taboo according to Islamic teachings, Arabs are increasingly more tolerant and accepting. I never saw Arab movies in theaters in Europe, I’m not saying there isn’t but I didn’t see any.

As for visiting countries, for westerners it is very easy to get a visa for Arab countries. For example, in Bahrain westerners don’t need to apply in their home countries for a visa. They just book a flight and upon their arrival at the airport they get a visa before entry right away. When Arabs travel abroad they need to apply for a visa a few months earlier. They need all sorts of documents to prove god knows what. Arabs are just more welcoming.

Not all but in a lot of Arab countries pork and alcohol is sold in supermarkets, which is a pain for a lot of Arabs since it is prohibited in Islam but still they must tolerate it. Halal food in western countries is available but then again it doesn’t violate any religious belief or country law.

In general, I know that Arabs can be pretty close-minded but it usually affects themselves more than others. Westerners claim they are more tolerant, open-minded and educated about the world. I don’t think so but I don’t really deny it either. It just bothers me that they criticize Arabs so harshly when they can improve themselves too. You can argue that Arabs are more open-minded when it comes to welcoming westerners, food, music, etc. because of globalization but this globalization which affects all of us is pretty one sided to me. The trends, food, music, behaviour, clothing, etc. that is taking over the world is very western.

In the end, I want to thank my friend Mariam who encouraged and motivated me to start writing again.

Thursday, 30 June 2011


“Ayo, I’m tired of using technology”. I never thought that a day would come where I would quote 50 Cent of all people. But yea, I am sick and tired of using technology.

There are so many mediums to communicate. We are connected 24/7. Messages come and go every second. My Blackberry, What’s App, facebook, twitter, email and what not are peeping or pinging or whatever all day long. The funny part is nothing much is ever said. I know where my friends are at all times; I know what they are doing and whom they are with. I know what they ate and I even know when they are taking a shower. That leaves us with very little to say when we actually meet face to face. How sad. What’s even sadder is when we actually meet we are still glued to our cellphones, iPads, facebook or twitter. I wonder why we make the effort to meet up.

The depressing part is this, when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is check my blackberry which lies next to me in my bed, and if the red light doesn’t blink and I don’t have a couple of emails, a number of facebook notifications, a facebook inbox message, two What’s App chats and five Blackberry Chats at least I feel sad and unloved. Well, that’s exaggerated but you get what I mean. I feel down. It’s sad that we reached to a point where we measure our popularity and the care of other people by the number of messages we receive that don’t really say much and the number of facebook friends we have that we don’t really know instead of the quality time we spent with friends talking, goofing around, joking and just having fun.

All those communication mediums and facebook also known as the social network is raising a generation of antisocial beings that have no clue how to really connect. Lately when I meet up with friends and I’m talking about something or the other my friend would pick up her/his cellphone numerous times to reply to a blackberry messenger chat, What’s App or text, or post something on facebook or tweet another useless line. What’s even weirder is if it’s not a cellphone in hand it’s iPod headphones in the ear. I am sure you had some sort of conversation while you or the other person had your headphones plugged in. How is that social? For all my friends reading this right now I confess that I am guilty of the same charges. To give you a visual, imagine you and your friend are sitting at your kitchen table having a chat. Your friend gets up 4 times and leaves the kitchen for 30 seconds and comes back in. After the 4th time I am sure you had enough and will not finish whatever you were saying even if your friend begged you to. It’s pretty much the same thing with a cellphone, your friend is typing something and in those 10 or 15 seconds he/she is not really there.

What’s more and which is sort of funny, I know some people very well. I know their favorite color, animal, food and even their sleeping habits and what they are scared of. I know what they do everyday and even their friends. But you know what! I never met them in my life. They don’t know that I exist. Youtube vloggers invite you to their life, you see what they do everyday. They talk directly to you. After a while you get to know them really well. They become part of your life because you watch them everyday. They might even be a substitute to friends. I know Youtube is awesome and that it is a huge community but I also think that it encourages anti-social behaviour.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful we this technology that keeps us connected. I would not give up my blackberry, iPod, or laptop voluntarily but I miss the days when my friends and me had a long chat that lasted for hours with no distractions, where we were 100% there. I would love to go out with friends and just have fun instead of pausing to take 20 photos of us posing to take that one perfect picture to upload on facebook. I wish I could leave the house without my cellphone or iPod without feeling naked. I’d like to read a whole page in a book before checking my Blackberry because the red little light started blinking again.

There is one last thing that I want to leave you with, this is a scene from the movie “He’s just not that into you” that is related to this matter. I think its funny.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

I want to be a smokin' hot muslim

The truth is my generation onwards doesn’t know what to do. Can we be blamed? I don’t expect you to understand but it is just so damn hard. It is a constant fight in our heads.

On the one hand, we see girls on TV that wear tiny skirts and tight tops, and honestly they look gorgeous. Magazines tell us we should look like that, wear that and be that or otherwise we are lame and old fashioned. Honestly, we don’t want to be lame and old fashioned. We want to look and feel beautiful. We want to be admired. We want to attract. We want to catch the eye. We want people to stare. We want the hot guy to notice us. And yes, we want to look sexy. It doesn’t make it easier that there is a voice in our head that pushes us to have some fun, thrill and excitement; it’s in our nature after all.

On the other hand, there is religion and reason. In Islam, girls should be wearing long loose decent clothes. The face and hands don’t need to be covered. The “Abaya” is an Arab tradition, not an Islamic uniform for women, and the colour black is not a rule.

As for us, we understand what our religion wants to protect us from, we understand what our families want to protect us from, and we understand the reason behind all those preaches.

I know it sounds so cheesy, boring and old fashioned. Even though I take the risk of sounding like your mother who annoys you as hell whenever she says “your body is a gift, you are precious, blah blah blah”, in the end it is true.

Frankly, why would I want people to like me for how I look, it’s going away anyway. If I want to attract that hot guy, I don’t think it is a good idea to rely on looks. If I end up married to the poor lad who thinks I’m kate Moss and gets to see me when I wake up in the morning as myself with no makeup, I might risk killing him with a heart attack. Plus, cookies, cake and ice-cream are very tasty and tempting, so that fit figure will go down the drain too and if food doesn’t affect, babies and age will finish the job. Why care what people think? Life is tiring enough already, study, work, and relationships. If I had to care what people think I will be tense and stressed all the time. I want people to like me for who I really am. It makes it easy and relaxing because I don’t have to act. I know I’m sounding like a 60 year old talking but this is because media has done the job, they brain washed us so well, we are immune to all this talk. We are programmed to think it is retarded.

The result of all this jumble of ideas and emotions has resulted in a double standard lifestyle. Wrong and right are tricky to identify. Excuses are made for the wrongs to be validated and forced on society to be accepted.

Let me draw you a picture of Bahraini society. The malls are our catwalks, our New York fashion week, our Paris fashion week and we all are models. People go to malls to see and be seen by people. “Abaya”, skirts, jeans, “Hijab”, tank-tops, etc. Everything is available, from strictly religious to girls out of fashion magazines.

Some girls wear really tight clothes, which can be better called a second skin and a “Hijab”. This is how people want to force match the modern fashion with religion, even though they are incompatible, mostly. The clothes might cover the skin but the curves are flatteringly presented. What to do? We want to look like the actresses on TV and the models in magazines but still somehow remain connected to our religion.

Showing skin is not unusual either. Whatever you wear makes you that sort of girl. That is the harsh truth. Girls and clothing in Bahrain is a very hot topic. Oh and the makeup, if that 5cm layer is off you will never recognize the person. And recently the favourite colour for clothes was bright yellow. It is all big show.

As for us Muslims, the “Hijab” is another aspect in clothing. I will be perfectly honest. I will say what a lot of girls that wear the “Hijab” think but never allow their selves to say, because it sounds as if they doubt their selves and their religion. I know that I look without the “Hijab” a lot better than with it. I feel much prettier without the “Hijab”. It doesn’t make it any easier when the media displays us as puppets that are oppressed. Every time I hear it, it’s like a slap in the face. Every time I get that look, it’s like a stab in the heart. It hurts. It hurts very much.

That being said, I have another thing to say: no I don’t doubt the “Hijab”, it’s a part of me. When girls take off their “Hijab” there is a transformation; there is a wow effect that you get to see in movies when the leading female star shines in a beautiful dress. As non-Muslim you can’t understand because you grew up seeing people showing off what they have, it’s normal. It’s not normal for us. Hundreds of years ago, women even in Europe or America had to dress decent. In the early days of Christianity women covered their heads too because Virgin Mary did. Nuns cover their heads to this day and I never heard that someone said they are oppressed. We are just like them, we choose to live a certain way. Over the years, people took off a little more and then even more. Today there are nude beaches. As funny as it might sound, as a Muslim I’m not slightly surprised to see both men and woman with very little clothing. It even got normal. Mind you, it is only normal if that person is not Arab or Muslim. I’m not trying to say that people are bad because they choose to wear more, less, this or that.

We Muslims stick to our religion and traditions closely because if we let these foundations slip, every new scandal becomes a trend and then it just blends in and become normal. Where will we end up then?

Monday, 31 May 2010

“Living” Ever After

A lot of people fear death; some people fear death because it means the end of this life and the end of the person’s story. Others fear death because they are afraid of the unknown. Honestly, I guess I do and I don’t at the same time. I am lucky because I have faith; my faith gave me a picture of what to expect in the life-after. But I am thinking about death in the non-Islamic perspective here. A lot of people wish they could live forever. I was thinking about this and wondered what would happen if for fact tomorrow nobody died in the whole world. Wouldn’t that be scarier? Death is part of the human life cycle as far as mankind existed, death is normal. Do you honestly really think that you would feel relief if tomorrow absolutely nobody died? Or do you think you would be worried because it’s just out of the normal and that it just seems like the calm before the storm?

Does anyone truly want to live forever, especially since we age? We lose control of our brain and body. It’s not worth it anymore because alive doesn’t mean living.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Here is what I had to say

You know, I have this problem. I am too nice, sometimes I wish I was plain rude. Do you ever get this? You just wish to say what is on your mind, no matter how harsh. Some experiences, scenes and emotions that I have experienced had a big impact on me and I will probably always remember them mainly because how I reacted to them but honestly because how I didn’t react to them. I was in a number of situations where I saw people being rude or unjust to me or others, sometimes I reacted fittingly, sometimes I reacted poorly where I wish I had stood up more and the worst is when I didn’t react at all, which comes back hunting me for a long time after. Every time I witness or am in such a scene and then leave without giving a response either because I didn’t have one or because I supposedly am in control of myself this feeling builds up in me, spreads in my body, lingers under my skin and tingles. This annoying uncomfortable restless tingling remains for two days and occurs ever again when I have to think about this or that situation.

This scene I’m going to tell you about happened two years ago, it crosses my mind from time to time so I thought I will share it with you. My mum and I were food shopping at this mall in Bahrain. The supermarket is on the second floor and there are these special straight escalators that transport people and trolleys up and down. In front of one of these escalators was the crime scene. A young Bahraini woman, you know one of those fancy ladies with their perfect hair, perfect makeup, Clavin Klein jeans, Gucci bag, and Chanel glasses was about to go down one of those escalators, an Indian man with a shopping trolley where his little son of maybe 5 or so was sitting in are walking right behind her. The Indian man was talking to his son and both were laughing very hardly, it was just so adorable. The man accidently hit the woman’s hip very lightly, it is impossible that it could have hurt. The man pulled back the trolley straight away, apologized at least ten times. Now two main points to make things clear for you, the first is the woman wasn’t hurt and couldn’t have been hurt, nothing was broken, nothing really happened and the man apologized many times. The second point was that the man is Indian, a lot of Indians in the Middle East are labor and a lot of arrogant Arabs seriously believe they are something better when actually they are not. Now to the shocking part, the woman turned around with a normal face expression and when she saw the man who was honestly apologizing she exploded. She started to yell, insult, offend and basically over react in every single way in front of everyone but more importantly in front of the man’s little son. All I could see was this little boy’s expression, his world was falling apart. What else would anyone expect? When you are five years old your dad is a hero to you, he comes right after Spiderman or Superman or whoever you like most. Your dad is strong, confident, knows everything, can solve anything and above all protect you. And there at a tender five years old you realize the harsh truth way too soon that it is not true. My super dad isn’t all that what I thought he was. Here he is and he cannot even respond to the woman, he cannot even protect himself, how can he protect me? I bet the strong father figure crumbled right in front of his eyes. Watching the little boy’s eyes hurt me, it took my emotions to whole another level, it wasn’t just feelings anymore it was physically harsh and painful.

I regret that I didn’t say anything, it bothers me until now, and I hate to think that I was just standing there. I know it is too late but here is what I wanted to say “Fuck you, who the hell do you think you are? Do you truly actually believe that you are anything better? Do you? Because I don’t just know that you are utterly nothing better but I even highly doubt that you are equal to that man since you cannot even be considerate enough to understand and accept a sincere apology. You yell, insult, and dramatize something too small and insignificant to be mentioned and make a fool of yourself. All I see is a cruel dramatic racist.”

Friday, 1 January 2010

I am too young to feel this old

“I am too young to feel this old” is a phrase in a song called Cold Desert by the Kings of Leon; I will put a question mark after this phrase and say I have the answer to this question. Warning it might not be the answer most people want or expect.

I am born on the 27th of September in 1991, which makes me 18 years old and 4 months. Literally this is right and when I am asked how old I am my reply is 18 years old. I never thought much about the number that I and others call my age. I only added one number after each birthday and kept waiting to feel older but it always felt just like yesterday, until last year when my dad and I were reading one of his books by the philosopher Ali Shariati. This book introduced me to an idea I never thought of. How old are we really and why? Maybe I should be saying that I was born 18 years ago instead of saying that I am 18, but what is the difference? The answer lies in another question, what about me is 18 years old? My body is, since it was born 18 years ago; this might even be argued since my body exists even before that when my mum was pregnant with me. My friend has a lot of Chinese students in her class and told me that they count people’s ages from the beginning of the pregnancy. On the other hand, this method is not very accurate since it is not always possible to know exactly when a woman gets pregnant. But this again is not my point. A person is more than a body that claims to be this old or that old.

As for me I see myself in my religion, my behavior and thoughts which include my tradition, my languages and many other aspects, as for my body it could be broadly called a container. My religion is over 1400 years old but it pulls the strings in the way I live my life. I pray 5 times a day, I fast, I wear the hijab and many other things that are a part of my life which is a part of me. My behavior for instance cannot be given an age. I use a fork and a knife when I eat, when did that start? I live in a house, I sleep in a bed, I go to school, when did people start all those things? For sure it all didn’t start when I was born, but all those things are what I do so they are a part of me. You can even get deeper into it and say I wear clothes; humans didn’t always wear clothes and what I wear now an 18 year old girl wouldn’t be wearing 100 years back. I speak 3 languages, Arabic, English and German. When did these language start? Thousands of years ago. I use and need them; they are a part of me. The languages I speak are really important to me and I am very proud of them, they are some of the things that I wouldn’t want to give up. This is how much they are a part of me. When I start thinking of all the things that are a part of me, I wonder how many years I carry around with me. I could be ancient.

Happy New Year

I wish you all a happy 2010.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

I have a head with a brain and hair with a scarf

{Anonymous, 27 October 2009 14:32

Salam sis :) I was a reader of your other blog, I didnt know you wanted to pursue a career in financial accounting! Inshallah I will do the same in a year or so. Can I ask you a question? Since you mentioned you wear the hijab (I think), and your doing your BCom bachelor of comrence thats what we call it in Canada, Im assuming different for England. I wanted to know how it is wearing your hijab and being a student of that program, are there other muslim women there who wear it too in your classes ? LOL Im pretty sure you think im crazy, and your like "what is this chick talking about I feel normal wearing it" But to explain my question is that sometimes I wonder if the teacher thinks a muslim girl is incompetent because of the hijab, and will be harser. Especailly when I think about looking for work in these western societies, If you think about it whats the chance that an indian, white or chineese woman will get a job position over you because you wear a scarf. I hope you know where I'm comming from. Inshallah this dosent face any muslim woman ameen.}

This is a comment a girl left me, I wanted to reply in a post because I think this is a topic that is on a lot of peoples mind.

First of all I want to say that I don't think your crazy and I know where you're coming from with this question. I can encourage you, in my university there are so many girls that wear the "scarf", I really mean a lot of girls, a few hundred at least. There are even some girls that cover their faces. And the best part is that we are treated just the same like everyone else. Even the teachers are extremely nice and treat the girls that wear the scarf like any other girl. They are not just really nice but they talk and joke with me and don't make me feel different. Even the students are really nice and come up to talk to me. I have made friends with girls and guys from different countries and religions and I feel totally relaxed around them.

Especially here in Britain people are very open minded but of course not everybody is, there are always a few exceptions. I didn't have any problems what so ever in England but for example in Germany I don't feel as well as I do here. Even though I am half German and I have family over there. In Germany I am always aware of people staring at me. Sometimes I get back home exhausted. Sometimes I don't want to go out but I force myself too. In some countries it is worse than others. I am not saying it is easy but we have to be strong. We have to show those close minded people that there is nothing wrong with us but they have a totally wrong idea of us and if not then why should one more piece of clothing bother them since less pieces of clothing don't?

As for work chances I have no idea, I saw a few girls that wear the scarf working. I don't know if other girls would be preferred but this doesn't make any sense since the qualifications are what matter. Plus everybody keeps perching about justice and equality, I'm not saying they follow their own rules but it should be that way. Aye?

You know what the weirdest part about most of us girls that wear the scarf is, the scarf it self doesn't bother us but what people think of it or how they look at us does. And the funny thing is that most people who are against the scarf think that we girls are oppressed because of it and don't want to wear it. The scarf isn't the problem, the people are.

Another advice, if financial accounting is what you want to do, just do it. Don't let a few hurtful words and stares scare you. You might feel unhappy, hurt, annoyed and depressed for a day or two maybe even a week but what would make you unhappy for years is not pursue your dreams.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

BSc in household management

Back at home I had a washing basket in my bathroom. At night it would be full, magically in the morning it would be empty. When I came back from school all my clothes that were in the washing basket are washed, ironed and neatly folded laying in my drawers. The truth is, it's not magic, it was the maid. Bless her, as the british would say. Don't you think the british say bless you, bless her, bless him all the time, or is it just me?

Back at home when we go shopping there is always two people at the cashier, one is the cashier and the other packs your shopping into plastic bags. In some supermarkets the guy who packed the shopping would even take the cart for you to the car and load the things in. Everyone always goes shopping with a car, there is no such thing as walking or bus and the train don't exist.

I am not a girl who could play a character in gossip girl, who lives on the upper east side. I come from a normal income family. Life in the middle east is definitely a lot easier in many ways. No taxes or insurance either. It's quite luxurious but most people don't realize it. But they are not all rich and fancy either as many people think.

It took me five hours to wash my clothes the first two times. I started at 8p.m and finished at 1 a.m. The worst thing is the dryer, you have to put the clothes at least 3 times in to dry. Back home, you just hang them outside for 30 minutes and the job is done for free.

Another thing is carrying the shopping bags from the supermarket to the bus station and then from the bus station to the hall. Opening doors is the worst part.

We have vacuum cleaners, they work just fine but the cleaning part doesn't. They make a lot of noise and a really weird smell. Well, either that or nothing at all.

Washing dishes is annoying but drying them is even worse. I don't use glasses or plates. I eat in what I cooked in. That is my contribution to save water.

I really like ironing my clothes though, it's fun when you listen to your iPod. I'm a real pro now ;D

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I live with 5 guys

live with 5 guys? What is she talking about? She is a Muslim girl.

When I first came here I didn't have accommodation, since I changed my university. So when I arrived I went to the accommodation office and applied. I was lucky and got a room the same day. I straight away signed the contract because I was so happy. I wanted to live on campus, not off-campus. After I signed my mum who dropped me off at university asked me "Is it a single sex flat"? The truth was I didn't know. I didn't think about it because I was really happy to get a room last minute, and wouldn't have to look for a flat to live in. We asked the guy that works at the accommodation office and he told us en-suite rooms (which means your own room and bathroom) are mixed. My mum had this look on her face. She was worried that my dad wouldn't be ok with this and worried about drunk guys. I was more worried that my flat-mates are not that open minded to live with a girl that wears a head scarf, I can live with it but it would make life certainly harder, but what I wouldn't like even more is if I lived somewhere my parents don't really like. I would have to do it anyway but I would have this feeling haunting me.

Anyway, I took my keys and we went to check out my new "home". To get into my building I have to swipe my student card, to get into the elevator I have to swipe my student card, to get into my flat I need a key and to get into my room I need another key. This solved the problem of security which was what worried my dad. Plus, it's not really a flat, it's more of a corridor with a door in front of it. So I moved in. Now I live in a flat with 10 people, 5 girls and 5 guys, from Nigeria, China, Turkey, Caribbean, India, Pakistan and Ireland. My flat mates are nice, and the guys are decent.

I know in the arab world it is impossible for a girl to live with guys in the same flat if they are not close family. I understand the reasons. But I understand the circumstances too. I wonder if I would be judged by that back in Bahrain? I live on campus with a lot of security. I know there are risks but I like to feel like I can take care of myself. I am sure that a lot of people wouldn't let their daughters do that. They should have more faith in their daughters taking care of themselves.

Oh, my student ID card is horrible, my picture looks like one of those posters with "Wanted" written on them. I look like a terrorist/drug addict. My student number is 922923, that could be the reward for handing me in. I am seriously thinking about losing it to replace it. Is it worth £10?