#UoBWomen: Hanna speaks about her inspiring Mum

“How I love being a woman!” Ruby exclaims from the Netflix series Anne with an E. This line resonates deeply with me – most days, at least!

Hey, I’m Hanna, I’m studying MSci in Chemistry with Business Management, and I’m here to talk to you about International Women’s Day. As we celebrate, I can’t help but reflect on the essence of womanhood. It’s a day to honour women’s achievements, recognise their victories, and acknowledge the ongoing fight for their rights worldwide.

hanna 1

Now I may be a little biased but let me tell you about the most inspiring person I know – my Mum.

Her journey to becoming the remarkable woman she is today has taught me invaluable life lessons. To give you some background, my Mum comes from a Palestinian Muslim background and spent her formative years in Jordan until the age of 27. There, she embraced life wholeheartedly, cherishing every moment, especially her bond with her parents. However, everything changed when she met my Dad at 27, and they made the decision to relocate to England.

Moving to England

At first, they both thought this was a great idea, but once they moved to the UK, the reality of their move hit them hard – particularly for my Mum.

She arrived in England alongside my Dad and, was eight months pregnant with my sister. Having never visited the country before, she did not know how to speak the language beyond two words – yes and no. The first couple of months in England were tough; my Mum felt an overwhelming sense of homesickness and missed her family terribly, especially her own Mum.

She longed to go out and explore her new surroundings alone, yet the fear she would get lost in an unfamiliar place, where Google Maps was but a distant dream, held her back.

When my Mum did venture out, she experienced a big culture shock – people getting drunk, pork being sold everywhere (which is forbidden in her Muslim faith), people dressing differently, the smell of cigarettes and even the driving, which was actually safer than in Jordan. In those early months, Mum missed her home a lot.

Her first two months were the worst and hardest, and with her coming to England during the winter, she grappled with the reality of winter depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder. Despite the initial shock, she was determined to look on the bright side and succeed in her new life.

Looking forward

Even after enduring the pain of a caesarean birth and grappling with postpartum depression, Mum looked forward to embracing her newly adopted life in England. Encouraged by my Dad, she joined ‘mummy and me’ groups, which not only helped her English but also helped her find a community. The other mums would try communicating with her through hand gestures or by drawing and teaching her more words, leading to them eventually becoming friends.

Armed with a notebook to record every new word she learned, she mustered the courage to enrol in an English course, slowly gaining confidence in speaking the language.

Since the baby made my Mum’s life very busy, she started thinking less about her old life and began to enjoy her new one, with her growing family and newfound community. Despite the expected struggles Mum experienced during her first year living in England, she was determined to succeed, gradually adapting to British society and working without forgetting her Arab roots.

She remained determined to successfully learn English and British culture, going out with her new friends and never gave up even when she faced many struggles such as culture shocks and homesickness.

Mum’s journey wasn’t without its obstacles, yet her unwavering determination to adapt to her new life in England is nothing short of extraordinary.

hanna and mum

While I doubt how much my Mum knows how much I admire her journey, I count myself beyond blessed to call her my Mum.


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