Being away from home during festive occasions can be an emotional time for some.
Brunei students pursuing their studies overseas recently shared with the Bulletin their experience celebrating Hari Raya amid the pandemic, beginning with students at University of York in the United Kingdom (UK).
Third-year Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science student Azyan Munirah binti Haji Abdul Harith expressed sadness, adding that it had been two years since she had spent the festivities with her family back home.
It was a shared emotion among friends too, she said.
“Even though we are away from our families, we celebrate Hari Raya moderately, sharing the joyous occasion among ourselves and other Brunei students here,” she said.
Muhammad Yusrin bin Mohd Yusop, also from the same programme, said the celebration was quite different in terms of cheer.
“However, with close relations among Brunei students along with Bruneians residing here, it helped ease our sadness; we enjoyed the occasion as it was. We can feel the festive atmosphere here as if we are one family,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Nazim bin Haji Amer Iskandar expressed gratitude for being able to celebrate the festivities with friends in the UK.
Syahiirah binti Abdul Aziz, a fourth-year student pursuing a Medicine Course at the University College Cork, Ireland, said celebrations had to be put on hold in view of the ongoing examinations.
“On the first day of Syawal, the Brunei students in Cork organised an online ‘Hari Raya Takbir,’ joined by other Bruneians at Brunei Hall. “Despite being away from our families, we forged closer relations with other students from Malaysia, who too are unable to return home.”
“This was my first year away from home for the festivities,” she said.
Aida Syahirah binti Haji Aji, a fourth-year medical student at Glasgow University, described celebrating the occasion without her family as “challenging.”
“I appreciate the efforts made by parents who sent festive treats for us,” she shared.
Meanwhile, Siti Farah Diva said the students’ association of BruGlas Society held celebrations online, using Zoom. The pandemic had limited them from holding celebrations for a larger crowd, as house visits are prohibited to curb the pandemic.
Awangku Ahmad Azka bin Pengiran Abdul Razak, a student in Dublin, said, “As people were getting ready to celebrate Hari Raya, we were getting ready to sit for our examination. With the strict measures in place, the celebration is a bit silent this year.”