In 2017, I moved from Syria to the Netherlands. At first, I only spent time with Arabic-speaking girls; it was the easiest thing to do. I’m a little shy by nature. I didn’t know how to reach out to Dutch people my age. I was struggling a lot.

Getting used to the Dutch culture.

I’ve now been living in the Netherlands for three years. I moved here with my mom and youngest brother; my father and two other brothers were already here. Life was tough at the beginning. I had trouble learning the Dutch language, and I had to get used to the Dutch culture and customs. Meeting people and making friends was hard. For instance, it was difficult for me to schedule plans every time you wanted to see someone.

Having trouble making friends.

Being a shy person, it was hard to make friends. Especially in the beginning. I was staying at home often, and I spent a lot of time studying. Sometimes it made me feel very lonely. At the time, I was also taking a course at the university (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) to prepare myself for my bachelor’s degree college. I met a lot of people from Syria and other countries there. I became friends with some of them.

Social life

Currently, I’m happy with my social life. I’ve made some nice friends from Sudan, Morocco, and other Arabic countries. Sometimes, we speak Arabic with each other. I’m also trying to practice the Dutch language. Life became easier after taking a Dutch course; I also met a lot of nice people there. At the moment, I’m working as a photographer at a fabric factory. I always talk Dutch with my colleagues. We’ve nice conversations and sometimes we hang out together. Of course, I don’t hang out with all of my colleagues, only with the ones I feel connected to.

Sharing everything with my mom

My mom and I are like friends. I can tell her everything. We like doing things together, like going out for dinner or for a walk. When I felt very lonely, talking to my mom helped me a lot. At home, we usually speak Arabic. This is easier because my mom doesn’t understand everything in Dutch yet. Unfortunately, this doesn’t improve my Dutch. After spending a weekend at home, I tend to forget many Dutch words! My dad’s Dutch is better than mine, but he has been here longer too.

The future

After the summer, I hope to start my bachelor’s degree in architecture. I first need to pass an important language proficiency test in May. Through Education4you, I’ve a language buddy. She helps me to practice the Dutch language. Sometimes, I talk with my language buddy every day. It’s so nice practicing my Dutch with her! I also took a few other courses through Education4you, and I took a math test. A language buddy can also help you with your homework. I really like having a language buddy, and I can definitely recommend it to everybody!