I Need Advice

So I’ve been living in Holland for around 5 weeks now, and so far it’s been a pretty good experience. Of course it was stressful to find an apartment, buy furniture & accessories, find my way around The Hague, and just get used to being on my own. However I thought it would get better once I started meeting people and once I got used to the university I’m going to be doing my Masters at, Leiden.

I signed up for 2 introduction programs: one was for 5 days, the other for 10. The 5-day one started yesterday and it didn’t really go very well. All the new students were put into groups, and I was part of a mixed Dutch/International group. The people in my group were really nice and friendly, and it was lots of fun until I realized that from 6:30 pm onwards, the program revolved around drinking and partying.

Islam isn’t the only reason I don’t drink alcohol: I generally didn’t drink it before I became a Muslim either, because I hate the strong taste of it. I also hate partying/clubbing – I would rather go out for coffee or have a dinner party. I hate loud, smoky, atmospheres where everyone is drunk.

Because it was part of the program, I found myself in an awkward position: leave, and be the one person who left; or stay, and not enjoy myself at all. I stayed, but today I quit the program. Most students at Leiden clearly love to party, and that’s just not me. People I’ve asked advice from so far have just said that the kinds of people who dont like to party wouldn’t have signed up for this program anyway, and so I’ll only get to meet them later, in classes and so on.

The problem is the other introduction thing I signed up for starts next Monday and I’ve already paid for it. In the morning and afternoon it consists of Dutch language, history, culture, etc, so I really want to do that. But at night it consists of pub crawls, drinks, and dinners. So yeah. Should I just not go to those? Or find a way to enjoy myself there? I just don’t want to be the one awkward/weird person that always leaves and never goes to the social events you know? It’s a small group of 54 people so people will obviously notice if I’m not there. Plus I would like to go out and meet new people and make friends.

Being a Muslim in a non-Muslim country is a little harder than I expected. Being the only one who doesn’t drink; being the only student (it seems) who doesn’t like to party; having to make sure everything I eat is halal; having to explain that I’m fasting – these are all things I took for granted in Cairo.

I really hope I’ll meet people who are more like me once classes start. Maybe the kinds of people in these programs just like to party and drink. After all, they’re mostly Bachelors students.

Anyway, the question is what to do about next week’s program. Any advice?


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