There are very few people whom I can talk to about my feelings. My peers are busy working or studying. Luckily, there’s one teacher at my school with whom I can talk about everything. That’s really nice!

Studying in Rotterdam

I’m a Palestinian born in Syria. In 2015, I traveled to the Netherlands without my family. At first, I lived in a center for asylum seekers in Groningen (the Netherlands). I lived there with a lot of other Syrian people. After 4 years, I got the opportunity to study in Rotterdam. I found a place to live, and I’ve been taking classes at the MBO (“Secondary vocational education”) to become a salesperson. At the moment, I have an internship and I’m working a part-time job on the weekend. This means my week is very full, but I prefer it that way. It keeps me busy. I really like living in Rotterdam. It’s a beautiful city, and there is always something going on.

Difficulties making friends

Despite the vibrant city life, I find it difficult to make new friends. This is partly due to the language barrier. I can understand the Dutch language pretty well, but I can’t speak it fluently. Unfortunately, this makes it more difficult connecting with others.

Feeling like a burden

It’s hard for me to talk about my problems because I’ve met a lot of young Syrian people with bigger problems than me. I don’t want to be a burden by venting about my loneliness. Actually, I think that I should be able to solve my own problems. I also don’t talk about my loneliness with my parents. We call each other almost every day, but I prefer sharing the nice and better things about life in the Netherlands. I don’t want them to worry about me while they are far away in Syria.

Eat, sleep, repeat

The first 4 years living in the Netherlands, there wasn’t much happening in my life. I was by myself most of the time. Every day felt the same; eat, sleep and repeat. I wanted time to pass by quickly, so that I could start over the next day.  When I started taking classes, I had something to look forward to and life became a little better.

Finding a solution together

It’s hard to talk about loneliness, but eventually it has helped me a lot. Together with someone from youth work (WMO), I thought about a solution. We talked about things that I enjoy doing. He helped me to sign up for a gym membership. At the moment, I’m working out a couple of times a week and I’m also taking swimming classes. I like both activities a lot. It gives me a lot of energy! Even when I’m having an “off” day, I go to the gym to work out. Afterwards, I always feel better.

The best night of my life since living in the Netherlands

The youth worker also suggested to attend a Join us meeting. Join us organizes meetings in the evening for young people who feel lonely. I really looked forward to that first meeting. When I woke up that morning, I couldn’t wait for the day to pass by so I could go to Join us. The meeting was really awesome! It was the best night of my life since living in the Netherlands. It was also the first night that I solely spent time with Dutch young people. It’s important for me to spend time with them, so I can expand my Dutch vocabulary and learn how to socialize with other young people. At Join us, we tell jokes and we talk about fun things. It’s awesome to meet new people and to do activities together. I really enjoy it!