Moving from the home that you have always lived into a country that you hardly know is tough and overwhelming. You have to start a whole new life, make new friends, and live in a new home. My parents thought that moving to Doha would be a great opportunity for us and without a delay, booked five plane tickets to the city. I wasn’t too sure about this “great” opportunity at first…
Back in London, hardly anyone looked like me. By the time I started wearing a hijab, I was the black sheep in my year and some kids hated me for it. I tried holding my head as high as I could, but I was always put down because of my religion and race. Not everyone was kind but—as my dad always told me—there are always bullies in every school. With no one helping me, I learnt to stand up for myself knowing that in our world, there were girls like me who were treated badly because of their race or religion.
When I reached Qatar, I was gobsmacked—It was like I was in a dream! It was such a dramatic change, and I would not be surprised if I had fainted on the floor right then. I gasped and gaped at the plethora of luxurious displays like the Lamp Bear. Towering like a huge giant over me, the Lamp Bear stood impressively while I gawked, frozen and unable to move.
DESS (Doha English Speaking School) was the first school I went to in Qatar. My parents were immediately pleased that it offered one of the best primary school educations in Doha. When I reached there, I scampered and looked around, hoping to find my new class. After a few minutes, it became clear to me that I was lost. Utterly and completely LOST! I felt like crying when all the other kids found their friends and dashed off. So, I sat on a bench alone, helpless. I sat on that bench trying to quickly think about what I’d do then a kind woman finally approached me.
After a while, I adjusted to my new school. It wasn’t easy, as I was the only hijabi in grade four. But I still made some great friends and enemies as well. Unfortunately, one of the girls had always had a problem with me; from the first day of school to the last. I’m still not sure what provoked her to dislike me, but she definitely made plain her feelings towards me. For some reason, every time I made new friends, she would get angrier.
In grade five, things got a little bit better between us as she was in a different class, but I still disliked her. Since I was a bit older, I decided to simply ignore her hurtful behaviour. I also learnt an important thing as well: No matter how different you are, never let anyone bring you down. They’re not superior to you, and neither are you to them! The quote that I love, said by Haruki Murakami, that I always keep in mind, is: “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That is what the storm is all about.”
Before I end this article, I just want to say that Qatar has given me so many opportunities and confidence. If I had stayed in London, I would have been the meek and shy old me. Qatar has given me strength and I really think that Qatar is where the phrase “home sweet home” comes from. This is an 11-year-old who thinks that Qatar is the place to be.