Hijab-ing at Uni… for the first time.

So, if you read earlier entries in my blog, you’ll know that I’ve not been muslim long, and I kind of suck at it.  I’ve been hijab-ing with my sister Ashley for a few months, but not super long.  We’d go out for coffee, and I’d toss a headscarf on as I ran out the door.  A few weeks after that, it turned into a long, loose shirt with jeans and a headscarf.  After that, the jeans were replaced with a skirt.  After that… well, after talking to a few dozen people, I knew I wasn’t alone in saying that you just have to set a date and DO it permanently.

I said that the first day of winter quarter was my H-Day (hijab day).  Kind of like V-Day, but without the overt war.  Believe me when I say I fought with myself long and hard to do this.  I had changed departments as well, so no one in this department knew I hadn’t been doing it before now.  I was nervous… beyond nervous.  I cheated at Christmas time and didn’t wear it around my parents or my brother at all.  I still went out with him to the pubs, but I didn’t drink.  They… sort of know.  And what they do know, they’re in complete denial and pretend I’m not muslim, and I’m still a perfectly good little Catholic girl, but that’s not true.

So I wore it.  I bit the bullet, and put on this really nice olive-greenish skirt with some colour top (don’t remember), and hijabed it.  The class just pretended it wasn’t there, and the first person I met, Mike, was really receptive.  I didn’t ask him what he thought, but he and I had a cute little conversation before class.  People sat to the front and back of me, but not next to me.  The girls politely looked away, and the guys pretended I wasn’t there.  Is this how it’ll be the entire quarter?

Next period, I had Womens Studies, and Ashley was (thankfully) in class with me.  She picked me up from the geology department and walked over with me to Kelly (an Engineering building the class was in… I had no idea Kelly HAD classrooms tbh… I just get coffee there and use their free printing).  We’ve been chatting about this moment for weeks.  A white, hijabed Muslim girl in a womens studies class??  A hijabi who believes in equality and is rather liberal?  What?  These exist?  We walked in the classroom, which is brand new: it has white boards all along the walls, with stadium, table seating.  My (gay) friend, Nick, was sitting in the middle of the second row, and saw me as I walked in.  His eyes grew to saucer-size when he saw me in hijab.

“Kristin – look at you.”
“Hi, Nicky!  Happy new year!”
“Well, happy new year to yourself.  You… changed somehow.”
“Yeah, I’m Muslim, and admitting it in public.”
“Well, I’m bhuddist and spent the christmas hols meditating in Japan.”
“So, we’re both different. Awesome.”

And the conversation just flowed.  I stashed my headphones (which I hid under my hijab… it does come in handy when I don’t want to listen to lecture, come to think of it), and had a really good time with him.  He used to be my best friend.  Best best.  I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  The massive number of feminists stared, but they couldn’t believe they saw a hijabi who smiled a lot and had boisterous conversation with large hand gestures.  (I have an alarmingly bubbly demeanor when I’m uncomfortable. Usually I’m a bit mellow and quiet unless someone gets me all worked up.)

Class was fine – no one said anything.  We read the effing syllabus out loud, since our teacher apparently thinks we’re all mega retards.  Wednesday was a bit better, but they were still surprised to see a white hijabi.  Wednesday in geology… everyone avoided sitting near me, like I smelled.  I don’t quite know what to do.  It’s never bothered me before now.

I’m more self-conscious in hijab than without, I think.  I don’t lack the self-esteem, but now that I’m out of the closet, I lose a lot of interaction with other students.  I can’t go to the pub anymore, despite not drinking when I go.  I get invited to house parties, but I can’t go because guys are there (and alcohol).  People say I’ll be a better student, but I’m not sure about that.

Working out was a whole other matter entirely.   I don’t wear loose clothes when I work out – I find that they chafe and hinder performance (and are frankly dangerous when I fence).  I wore running tights, with running shorts over.  Then I wore an under armour shirt (long sleeved) with an England footy kit over (I have to show my pride), and a lycra hijab.  That’s pretty good for me.  It doesn’t hide my figure, but my skin isn’t showing.  The only thing that shows is my face and hands.  So, thats as good as it flippin gets.  It was uncomfortable, but I was covered, and I made an effort.  To swim in, I have the most brilliant swimsuit ever.  It’s made by Ahiida, an Australian company who makes Muslim swimsuits and sport outfits for hijabis.  I got a burqini swimsuit, which you can see here.  I love it.

All in all, I’ll write more later.  It all just kind of spilled out, didn’t it?  I feel like I’ve cut myself off from my friends, since I have no real muslim friends or support system.  The mosque here is… nice… but very conservative, and that’s not what I want.  I want something that accepts the western world and those who grew up here; this mosque doesn’t do that.

I’ve talked… typed… your ears off.  I’ll write more later when I quite understand everything. Dunno – maybe I’ll ask Ashley in the morning *yawns*.


6 thoughts on “Hijab-ing at Uni… for the first time.

  1. “The massive number of feminists stared, but they couldn’t believe they saw a hijabi who smiled a lot and had boisterous conversation with large hand gestures. (I have an alarmingly bubbly demeanor when I’m uncomfortable. Usually I’m a bit mellow and quiet unless someone gets me all worked up.)”
    So true!!!

    “Class was fine – no one said anything. We read the effing syllabus out loud, since our teacher apparently thinks we’re all mega retards.”
    Have you looked around the class???

  2. I feel your pain!! trust me…. I am a young canadian women who has recently joined the religion as well. Many people think i have a hidden purpose for doing so and my parents are in denial also. I feel very strongly about wearing the hijab in the community that i live in now…. you are VERY strong for doing so and Insha Allah this battle will make you a better muslim in the end… Insha Allah and take care and be strong!

  3. I was born Muslim and have only recently discovered the beauty of hijab. I’ve started the same way you did, hijab-ing in certain places to gain confidence and become comfortable before I reveal it to everyone else. I am finding it quite scary and having read your blog, i think what you are doing is amazing and its given me a lot of courage. Thank you 🙂
    ps- The friends you make now will be true and everlasting.

  4. Hi there,
    Just wondering I read your blog and am confused here you say you are muslim and then lattly you say you are catholic, Im just trying to work it all out. I like your blog

  5. Salaam!

    I just stumbled upon your blog (and more specifically, this post), after doing a spot of googling. It made me smile- mostly because it is rather humourous, but also because I am a white sikh wearing a dastaar, so like you I stand out a mile away! I can relate to people consciously ignoring the fact you’re wearing something on your head: I have found that kids genuinely don’t care, but it’s definitely an avoidance tactic of most adults. Since I am changing Uni and so no one has seen me wwearing a dastaar, I am yet to find out for myself whether people will be reticent to engage me in conversation (on a funny note, maybe they might do this because they think I don’t speak English?!)

    I’m glad you challenged some of the stereotypes in your Womens Studies class, it’s always good to give people an alternative perspective!

    Good luck and best wishes,


    • Thank you so much for your kind words. It was hard at first, but in the end, Islam just wasn’t for me. But, the few years I tried, it was very eye opening, and definitely changed my life. Good luck! -K

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