I feel 75% foreign. I can’t turn my back on my religion, culture and language. But this does not mean that I don’t want to be integrated. I am very focused on learning Danish. I don’t want to have to rely on my children or others. So we haven’t got any Arabic TV-channels. We strive to get Danish friends. But I do miss talking to other Arabic speakers, who are familiar with my homeland and culture.
When I visit my family in Sweden, I give myself a break and become a full-blooded Arab for a while. I watch Arabic TV series and speak non-stop Arabic. I don’t have to sit there and excuse myself and distance myself from all kinds of things, which have nothing to do with me. It is really nice.
On the bus, there was this Danish woman. She always smiled at me, and I always wondered why she was smiling. One day she said: “Do you happen to know someone who can take care of my child? He is disabled, and the council has granted me 12 hours help per week”. I said yes right away, although I am not that good at Danish. I would like to be independent. My payment is no more than what I receive in benefits, but at least I can get out of the system.
Back in Syria, I loved being a teacher. In Syria teachers are highly respected, unlike here. But I am no longer able to work with children. The war has changed me. I tire easily and find it difficult to concentrate for longer periods. I compare myself with my children. Their Danish is excellent. My eldest has finished his 10th grade and will now attend technical school so he can become a carpenter. Even though I am 45 years old and carry baggage of all the bad experiences, I go on. I still have big dreams.
45 years old / married / children / Student / Roskilde, Ågerup / Palestinian refugee born in Syria / Syria / Came to Denmark in 2014 / Residence permit in 2014