When Yemini refugee Ali* was staying with host Robert, they shared their experiences living together in a series of weekly posts called ‘Close to home’. Ali found a house after six months and has been living on his own for some time now. We’re catching up with him to see how he’s been since.
*not his real name.
How are things going, now that you have your own place?
I’m doing good enough! I love my new place, it’s close to my office and I stopped taking any public transportation. I go everywhere on my city bike, which I love the most about living in Amsterdam. I’m adding pieces of furniture every month. I still don’t have a dining table, so when Robert comes to visit, we eat on the floor 🙂
Of course, I’m still in contact with Robert. We meet on occasion, and we have dinner together, either outside or at my or his place. We also went to an art gallery last week.
I chose to stay with a host family mostly to be closer to my previous job. Also, make an effort to bridge the gap between myself and the locals. I expected answers to my never-ending questions about literally everything, from putting on or taking off shoes in the house to how the Dutch parliament is formed and how politics works differently here.
One of the most difficult challenges I faced was that my AZC was in Maastricht while all job opportunities were in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or Eindhoven. It was depressing to be helpless and surrounded by only refugees who shared the same story. Staying with Robert gave me hope and reminded me of how valuable I am.
What did you take from your stay with Robert (regarding habits, rules, rituals etc.) now that you live on your own? What things do you do differently?
I eat muesli for breakfast instead of eggs, I keep my curtains open at all times, and, most importantly, I have learned to cook.
Looking back on the time I stayed with Robert, I enjoyed every minute of it; being a part of an amazing family and sharing important moments with them (birthdays, summer outings, visiting museums, or even going on a city tour, and mainly just chatting about our differences). The most special to me about the time I spent with Robert was having dinner together, sharing weeks plans.
What helped me since my stay was being unjudgemental or maybe less judgemental. Also, ‘what will Robert do?’ is my new way of thinking in most of my confusional situations, stop trying to understand what’s going on in somebody’s else head. And the list is long.
What I appreciate most about the time I stayed with Robert is having a mentor, that I can go to when I need to share openly, without doubt that I will be judged, never giving you a solution but always pushing you to find your own.
In the first blog you said: “Together, we can show the world that we are all different but also the same.” What are your thoughts on that now?
We all have our differences, but we don’t have to agree on everything to live together. As long as we respect each other’s viewpoints, we can always agree to disagree, and having an opposing opinion can make me more creative and make me reconsider my life decisions. I wish that I could convey the importance of coexistence to everyone.