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"Even if you have everything and are enjoying your life abroad, you will always feel like a stranger."
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“I left Iraq because I wanted to go to university in Europe, to have freedom, and have a good and normal lifestyle that was different from the one I had in my country. I was only 21 years old when I left. Since my Iraq was not stable, my family and I decided to go to Lebanon first. While there, I chose to go Sweden because my friends and siblings were already living there; the rest of my family decided to go to the U.S.

I crossed so many countries before reaching Sweden. I paid a lot of money, faced many hardships, saw many people suffering, hungry and homeless. Still, I wanted to go to Sweden and live the perfect life I had imagined.

Once I arrived, I faced something quite different than expected. I experienced culture shock. I also saw how Swedish people enjoyed their lives. Adapting to their rules and policies was a challenge for me, but overall I liked their lifestyle and tried to live a normal life like them.

I missed Iraq's warm weather, my family and my friends. Nevertheless, I tried my best to learn Swedish to enter a local university. I was also working and waiting for one thing: an official document that would allow me to stay there. But it didn’t happen.

My father got very sick while he was visiting me and he decided to go back to his hometown. This pushed me to go back to my country, with my parents. My migration experience led me to apply for a job at IOM Iraq to help displaced persons and migrants in my country. During my time in Sweden, I learned about cultural diversity and traditions. I also managed to learn Swedish, English and some Greek, which helped me to easily get a job in my country. 

Thanks to the hardships I faced, I learned that even if you have everything and are enjoying your life abroad, you will always feel like a stranger. Something will always be missing — home. I consider Sweden to be my second home but as the Swedish proverb says: being away is good but home is the best.”

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