One semester left before graduation! I called my dad and asked him if it was safe to fly back to Syria to do my last exams, for my last year? I was hoping to graduate. But, in a low voice, he replied: ‘‘Your life is more important than your certificate.’’
I understood that it was impossible to go back, to make my dream come true.
This story goes back to 2006, when I was told that “having a certificate means having a good job and eventually a good life”. The idea of studying in a university took hold of my mind, and became a dream. My dad told me once that “a certificate in English Literature will open the doors for you to travel and explore the world”.
Fast forward to 2007, to one of the most beautiful days in my life. I received my acceptance letter from the university, from the English literature department.
I started my first year. I enjoyed every single day of it – hanging out with colleagues and attending lectures and sleeping on campus.
There were certain things which made my university life difficult, such as not being able to afford books or paying the rent! I still remember how I wore the same jeans every day, and would sometimes borrow my friend’s to give the impression I had more than one pair of trousers.
The situation got little bit complicated with the cost of my studies. I was lucky enough to find a job in Dubai, which helped me and my family to have a better life.
Working and studying was a big challenge for me, but even though I was abroad, I managed to pass in the second and third year. I flew back every six months to my university to take my exams. I was determined that I would not give up my dream.
In the summer of 2013, I took a flight back to Syria to do my final-year exams. It was a risky journey. I travelled to Homs, where my university was located, even though this meant passing through the military checkpoints where I could be arrested for no reason. Luckily, I reached my university safely.
I still remember one of those summer nights. I was sitting studying and breathing in the gentle night breeze. Yet I could not enjoy it, because I could also hear the bombs. It was a mixed feeling of hope and despair.
Luckily I passed all my exams.
In the very last semester, I called my dad and asked him: “Is it safe to fly back to Syria to do my last exams (second semester) for my last year?” I was really hoping to graduate. And the way he replied, I realised it was impossible.
The terrible situation in Syria has killed thousands of lives, destroyed homes and left us with a lot of pain. I am just one, out of countless students, who left their homes and schools.
I am living now in Sweden, but I will never give up. My dream will come true one day.