Seiran, 20, is from Derik, Syria but currently lives in Shaklawa, Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Seiran had to quit her Arabic studies at university in Syria when her father, a civil engineer who had left his home country to find a job in Iraq, decided the family should join him. “My siblings did not want to move, but I thought I would go through this new experience in a new place,” she says.

“When we first arrived, everything was different. It was a new country and a different language. It was a new dialect and we didn’t understand a word. But, we got used to it with time.” Seiran’s new life in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was different: besides not being able to communicate, the city they had settled in was much bigger than Derik and it felt foreign compared to the small town they had come from.

Hopefully, if the situation [in Syria] improves, we will all go back to Derik. We are studying to build the country later. [...] I don’t have many ideas but if I go deeper in my studies, I will find ways to help the country.

Seiran wanted to continue her studies, but was afraid she would not be able to manage attending classes in a foreign language. She applied for a scholarship and she got it. “When I first started,” she explains, “I thought of dropping out because I thought I could not handle it. Later, I realised I could continue: the lectures are in Kurdish but the curriculum is all in English. I’m in my third year now… [...] I still have the scholarship and everything is good.” Seiran hopes to continue her academic career so that, one day when things normalise in Syria, she can go back and help rebuild her country.

© European Union 2018 / Johanna de Tessières