My Life Outside Syria: Diary Entry 65

Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, recently arrived in Switzerland as a refugee, where she is struggling with her first pregnancy and the potential breakup of her family.

Written by Marah Published on Read time Approx. 3 minutes
Creating happiness is not easy. It is a strange mix of many things and it takes a lot of effort. I myself just started learning how to make my own happiness. Spring has arrived here in Switzerland. The weather is beautiful and the views are breathtaking. I suggested to my mother that we take our food and spend a day out in a rural area, close to where they’ve built a refugee camp.

We prepared everything just as we used to do when we were in Syria – meats to grill, appetizers and games. We had so much fun that day. We laughed, played games and had great food. But our happiness was not like what we had in Syria. In the beginning, I thought it was just me, but later on, everyone else said nearly the same thing. I realized at that moment that I am not capable of creating happiness – I can feel it, and come close to it, but I cannot create it. I had a great day, but I was not fully happy, and that makes me wonder: What is missing in order for me to attain full happiness?

I want to be happy, and I am working on it, but I still have not figured it out. Of course, I have not yet found the answer, but I am used to that. I have so many questions that I’ve never found an answer for. I might find happiness through my studies and my new social life here. I am now learning a new language, and I have made new friends with different nationalities, habits and traditions. I love and respect each of them, and they, it seems, feel the same way toward me. My new friendships are important to me – they’ve added color to my life.

I’ve been more interested in my German language studies of late, studying diligently every day because I realize that my life here is dependent on my knowledge of the language. My teacher is happy with my progress, and he even offered to transfer me to an intensive class so that I can continue with my studies in prosthetics as soon as possible. However, when he learned that I was pregnant, he recommended that I wait until the baby is born because he thought that an intensive course might be tiring for me. I think he is right. I am already tired and under a significant amount of physical and emotional pressure. It seems I’m always busy with something – in addition to my pregnancy, I have recently moved to a new home. And with my family’s ongoing issues concerning their refugee status, I rarely spend a day without having to get something done: a visit to the doctor, requirements for proof of residency or marriage, bill payments, random errands … the list goes on and on.

This chaotic pace makes it challenging for me to clear my mind. Perhaps I should begin exercising or meditating or something. I honestly want to be able to spend one day at home without being busy with something. Even my weekends are busy with new tasks that I, as a wife, must carry out. I appreciate these responsibilities and do not want to relinquish them – on weekends, we visit my family and my husband’s family, and we usually have friends over. It is tiring, but I truly do enjoy these visits.

I have learned that family relationships in Switzerland follow a different dynamic from those in Syria. Here, interactions are minimal. Teenagers often leave their parents’ house when they reach 18 years of age, and sometimes they completely separate themselves from their families when they get married. It is very different in Syria – families are closer, which is something I love and appreciate because I believe that these relationships keep us balanced. I have felt that way since I was a little kid. I always wanted to have a strong and close family.

I hope you do not think that I dislike the West or its traditions. The smile that my neighbors give me every morning means the world to me. People here are loving, caring, helpful and supportive. I love and appreciate people in this country. I respect their traditions and their thinking. They have their own history and traditions, and as a new part of this society, I realize that I have to integrate. However, I intend to do that without losing my roots or my traditions as an Arab Syrian woman – because that is something I am proud of. I will continue my search for happiness, and I am sure that I will be able to find it.

As Gandhi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Wish me luck!

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