Male, from Syria, now living in Denmark.
I’m originally from Syria, and when the revolution broke out against the tyrant Assad, I was a student in the university. I was studying my third semester and I was one of the best students in my subject. That meant that the institutions of the Syrian regime were very interesting in using me and my expertise. They wanted me to make presentations and convince others to join the war and be a part of the conflict. I refused to do so – I didn’t want to contribute to the killing of innocent people. I believe in freedom and am against corruption. But as you probably know, it can be very dangerous to say no to the regime. I was wanted by the regime.
At that time, I lived 30 km from Damascus, and on the route there were 12 checkpoints. This meant that I couldn’t leave my city, and I felt very hopeless, and that my future was ruined. I’m a person who loves to study and do scientific research, and I have a dream to become a scientist, or a professor, so it was difficult to see my dream fade away.
I started to think of ways I could leave Syria, and finally I decided that the safest way was to go to Lebanon and then to Europe. The reason that I wanted to continue to Europe was that the situation was very bad in Lebanon, especially when it comes to my possibilities to continue my education and follow my dream. To get to Europe from Lebanon I had to travel to Algeria (as Syrians at that time didn’t need a visa to travel there), then go to Tunisia, Libya, and from there take a boat to Italy. It was a dangerous route. At the border control between Tunisia and Libya, they were shooting at people, so we crossed the border at night in order not to be seen. The situation in Libya was very bad. I stayed there 10-15 days until I found a possibility to go by a boat to Europe. I paid a lot to go by this fishing boat. The trip was two days. I was actually not worried to die at the sea. I put my trust in God.
The reason why I chose to go to Denmark was that I have close relatives here. I was still young when I arrived here, and I didn’t have experience living on my own. I come from a social and conservative family, so the fact that I had close relatives in Denmark was an important reason.
I got my residence permit on the ground of political asylum, as the regime had made many threads against me. Many of the students from my faculty had actually been killed for refusing to cooperate with the regime. Some of them had also complied and are now involved in killing people.
In Syria I was always interested in learning languages, and this is still a hobby of mine. I know French, Spanish, Arabic, and now Danish (though I am still not satisfied with my level in Danish). I learned Danish at the highest level in order to get into university. I succeeded to get admission in the same field as I was studying in Syria, and I am very happy and satisfied with my studies and with the good relationships with the professors and the fellow students.
Therefore, to sum up, the reasons that I fled to Denmark were; family, safety, education-opportunity, and freedom. It was not for economic reasons, as some people might think. I don’t come from a poor family, but from the middle class.
I felt very welcomed by the Danish people. I had good social experiences with my neighbors, in the language school, and in society in general.
It can be difficult sometimes in relation to the Danish language and culture, but one needs to have patience and be open-minded. And it is also important to keep a balance between one’s own culture and the culture of the host country to create a successful social integration. I’m very interested in cultural exchange, and therefore I also established a cultural association together with my friends.