It’s been almost 4 months since I am here. Still clearly pictured in my head the first few days, or even weeks of pure confusion. It was literally like being in a whole different universe where I understood nothing about what people are saying. A trip to 7-11 was like a daring game. Riding a bus was too much of a challenge not knowing when to tap the card, so instead, I decided to walk 10 km every single day for the first week. It actually did much favor for my fitness tracker, but on rainy (plus gigantic wind that Taipei has always had) days it was really not much fun. ( I’ve broken 3 umbrellas so far :”( )
Although I’m still adapting to be called 華贏芮 (Hua, Ying Rui) instead of Vivin, (not automatically responds times to times) but, after 12 weeks of rigorous study in chinese, hundreds of characters to memorize, tones practices, and all those 15 chapters I have finally completed. People here are no longer from a different universe, or maybe I, had moved into theirs.It’s beyond just “happy” to describe the feeling of understanding what people say, and Alhamdulillah, Taiwanese is super attentive and friendly. They don’t mind to speak a bit slower, and really appreciate a foreigner trying to speak their language.
Another thing I am very grateful about is that, Alhamdulillah, despite being a minority in this country, people are really respectful and interested towards Islam. Yesterday, as I was waiting for the train in Hualien, a Taiwanese Uncle said in chinese, 你們是 Muslim 嗎？很漂亮的 (pointing at our hijabs). Which is translated to: Are you guys Muslim? Your hijab is really beautiful!
Majority of the restaurants would also ask, 你不要豬肉嗎？（you don’t want pork right? Even before I asked. And they wouldn’t mind to alter the menu a bit to cater my needs.
I also met a Taiwanese sister named Aisha, at Taipei Grand Mosque who reverted to Islam 7 years back and is still learning as much as she can, every single day, other than embracing a new sister in Islam, she, with her enthusiasm, was like a breeze reminder for me not to stop learning about Islam. That Islam should always be on my top priority. That no other Dunya thing should keep me busy enough not to learn.
Alhamdulillah, other than Aisha whose learning spirit mesmerized me, I also met whole group of students under FORMMIT (Forum Mahasiswa Muslim Indonesia Taiwan) who are just like family. The feeling is just the same when I found out about Pengajian Birmingham few years ago, when I, with another friend, were the only students in Wolverhampton. These people whom I called family is the much needed warmth in the dark winter.
Being a Muslim, and a minority isn’t as frightening as the media shows it is. For me personally, it rather motivates me to be a better “face” of Muslimah in this foreign country,
Narrated by Muslim (145) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”