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Zulaika Popal


I am not Danish and I am not Afghan. Maybe that is why I have the wanderlust gene. I want to do something, I want to be someone. When I am with other Danes, they ask “where are you from?”. I say “Bjerregrav”. And when I am with Afghans, they may comment on my clothes. “Why do you wear trousers and not a dress?”

I was the only one in my class to be given “Tortilla Flat” by John Steinbeck, an American novel, by my English teacher in the 3rd grade. I was proud and spent all weekend spelling my way through the book. Yet, it wasn’t till I re-read it at the age of 18 that I really grasped the story. She is probably the reason why I now study English at the university.

Good integration does not come from pointing out our differences. We must be more patient, try to reach out and understand one another. You can’t see eye to eye with everyone, but you can try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. We should be hosts to strangers, to one another. It will make a large difference in the effort to connect different people and create new relations. Patience is part of the package. For instance, my dad loves buying old junk and restore it. Often the process will drag out because he is a perfectionist. And this is when I get out a hammer and other tools and patiently help him achieve what he set out to do. Sometimes you just have to take your time when you help others.

My dream is to go to Korea. A dream I share with my sister, who is four years older, maybe because the Korean culture has so many similarities with the Afghan, like respect for the elderly, the way you address people, and concepts.

22 / female / single / studying English and Anthropology / Randers / from Afghanistan / came to Denmark in 2001 / residence permit in 2001

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