I checked myself in the mirror for the last time... "First impression is last impression" my mothers familiar saying rang in my ears and I smiled at myself sure that my reflection was sure to attract the right crowd on my first day. I had carefully matched my hijab with my dress and handbag and was sure my jeans were baggy enough.
"Wow, you'll have no trouble making friends," gushed my younger sister. Nervous as I was I shrugged as though I couldn't care less but as soon as she was gone I began reciting the du'a I had been taught to bless me with good company.
As I clambered into the car a couple of minutes later I felt a little more confident, after all uni was meant to be the best years of your life right? My elder siblings had all made their life-long friends there, surely I would have the same luck... Or would I?
It's a funny thing how time can drag when you're looking forward to something, this was not one of those times. Before I knew it my father was pulling up infront of my uni building, wishing me good luck and fighting back tears of pride. I smiled hoping with all my heart that I could work hard and do him proud.
"Alright get a move on, you don't wanna be late!" he chuckled as I pecked him on the cheek.
This was the new big step. University. I stepped out and took a deep breath. The air was chilly and I could feel light drops of rain falling on my cold skin. I wrapped the coat around me tighter and slowly walked inside with my timetable reminding myself of my aims for the year...
1) Work hard...hard enough to get top marks
2) Make GOOD friends (no lads)
3) Basically...have abit of fun...(note to self - HALAL fun - not like college...)
4) Also maybe find myself...
OUCH!!! I had absent-mindedly walked into someone. Typical me!
"Sorry!" I murmured automatically.
"No worries," a pretty face smiled back at me, "first year, right?" she asked
"Erm yea, how'd you guess?" I said and instantly felt like an idiot. Well duh, I thought, it was obvious from the way I was holding the campus map with a confused expression on my face, I might as well have had "fresher" tattooed on my forehead.
She laughed and I realised she was following my chain of thought. "Come on, I'll show you where to go."
I nodded gratefully and followed her down the narrow corridor to a pair of double doors.
"I'm first year too by the way" she said.
I was surprised as she seemed pretty confident. She must have guessed, "I got here early, thought I'd check the place out."
She must be psychic I thought. I hadn't had to talk much... Hmm could she see how nervous I was? Oh gosh I couldn't be friends with a mind reader. I had stupid thoughts all the time... "Okay now stop being stupid!" I told myself; my nerves were clearly affecting my sanity. I began a conversation with her before she thought I was completely mental, that surely wouldn't have been a good first impression.
We both sat down together in the front row of the lecture theatre watching as the hall slowly began to fill with other students ahead of the introductory lecture. My new friend was nice. She was well-spoken and polite, but as we spoke a group of girls in hijaab caught my eye. Phew! Relief flooded over me, it was always a comfort knowing you wernt the only one. I smiled at them making a mental note to go over to them after the lecture.
"Oh my God! What are youuu doing here????" a familar voice interrupted my thoughts and I spun round to see a guy smiling back at me. "I didn't know YOU were on this corse!" he laughed.
I froze. Rewiiiind. This was NOT part of the plan. I had planned to get away from college, but it seemed like it had followed me here. What was my aim again? Ermm I was having trouble remembering now... Oh yes: Make GOOD friends... As in girls... But all that was beginning to dissolve... Don't do it! Don't do it! A part of me protested but it was only a whisper now...
"Jamaaaaaal!!! Omg! Wow! What a coincidence! Ha! Great I know someone!" I laughed and before I knew it he had jumped forward to occupy the empty seat beside me. After introducing himself to my new friend on the left he launched into an account of how he'd ended up on the course. I replied and laughed and smiled... And inside I cursed myself. Shame on you Aliyah! Slipping down that same slippery slope... You had promised to change! You're making a mistake... This is wrong...
The voice of the programme director droned over my thoughts.
Jamaal leaned closer, "I'll tell you the rest at lunch, after all we got three years of this now" he winked.
I smiled feebly before redirecting my gaze to the tired looking lecturer and tried to focus. This wasn't the new beginning I'd hoped for. But hey, what's a bit of harmless chat? It was no big deal... I was worrying for nothing...right? I mean I was in control... It wasn't like last time...I tried to convince myself but deep down I knew it was a lie. What had I gotten myself into?
To be continued...