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My Life Outside Syria: Diary Entry 61

Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, has been sharing her stories of life in the war. With her mother and siblings, she left Syria, stopping off in Turkey before making the precarious crossing to Greece by boat. Now in Switzerland, she describes her life in a new country.

Written by Marah Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Despite the terror that they have witnessed back home, all refugees here, regardless of their origins — Iraqis, Syrians or Afghanis — miss their families and feel nostalgic for their homelands.

We have left our homes, hoping for a safe life and a better future. Although we enjoy safety and stability in Europe, we all miss our homelands, our families, and our friends.

The period after refugees first arrive in Europe is usually the hardest — we all feel lost because most of us do not speak European languages and do not have jobs. Many refugees feel that they have lost a part of themselves. Back home we used to have our own communities, jobs, families and friends, but in fleeing to Europe we’ve lost all of that.

I feel that deep inside me there is a void. I sometimes wish I had stayed in Syria, despite the war. I know that you might be shocked by my words because you know how much I suffered in order to come here, but believe me, there is a gap in everybody’s soul that only one’s own homeland can fill.

I have married, and I now have a new home to build, but every time I think about the fact that my mother and siblings will move to Germany, anger and fear boil inside me. More and more I feel lost. Although my husband has stood by my side and supported me in the face of all these obstacles, my anger and fear get the best of me sometimes.

I have lost all of my safety nets: family, school, community and homeland. I am even giving away my own traditions and gradually embracing Switzerland’s. The two cultures are very different, and in order for me to take part in this society, I have to cope. However, I am afraid that I will eventually lose my identity, and that I will not know how to fill the void that losing it might create.

I thought that as soon as I left Syria and arrived in Europe, everything would magically work out, but I was wrong. Life is an endless chain of problems.

Every time I feel anxious, I close my eyes and think of my father and my grandparents. Is this an escape strategy? Is this a sign of weakness?

Other times, I remind myself that I’ve received everything I hoped for, and that I should be strong. I remind myself that I am in a great place, and with someone who loves me. I’m lucky. This makes me feel better for a little while, but eventually, I sink back into my concerns. What do I want? I sometimes fail to understand myself.

For a while after I got married, I enjoyed being taken care of. But recently, I’ve begun to change. By depending on my husband for everything, I was undermining my own control of myself and my life. I want us to be equal. I want to act as his partner. I know that he has much more life experience than me, but I am working hard, and I am learning something new every day.

I needed time to get used to my new life. Now, however, I am ready to rethink my behavior, my approach to life and my mistakes. I am very happy with where I am now, and I hope that everything will eventually settle. There is one thing that I pray for: I pray that my family will remain near me. Will I be able to realize this dream?

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