There is a common stereotype about Afghanistan in Europe, which disturbs me. When I say to Germans that I come from Afghanistan, often the reaction is: Ach so! (Oh so! – ed.) Or Wirklich? (Really? – ed.) Then I need to explain the situation.

Actually there are people here in Europe who never thought open-minded and educated people exist in Afghanistan. They don’t know that there are normal ordinary people who are like the rest of the world. And that these people should be seen as the victims of extremism, what they actually are. People often don’t realise that.

I go home once a year. Afghanistan is still a country with insecure places, but the situation is not as bad as people imagine over here in Europe. People in Afghanistan go on with their normal lives: they go to school, university, and despite many challenges, you see how people enjoy their life and exercise happiness…. The situation is not black and white, like often imagined. Normal life is going on there as well.

Has the situation improved in Afghanistan compared to couple of years ago?

Now I really see the improvement of the country. There are improvements that no media mentions. I see lots of changes when I visit the country. I am optimistic about the future.

What brought you to Germany?

I came to Germany in 2010. I had an opportunity to come here for work. New country, new experience… I thought: “Why not?”

How would you describe your life so far away from home?

Going abroad has its own challenges. You’re away from family and friends. But the positive sides outweigh the challenges. It’s a new country. You meet new people with different ideas, new friends with different understanding of life, actually, of everything. You find yourself in a different experience.

Sometimes you do feel homesick or lonely. I miss my family and social life I used to have in my home country. In Afghanistan the family and relationships are very close. You can visit your friends so often. But here in Germany the things are different. You should have a schedule for everything. It took time for me to become a scheduled man.

Bonn is a very nice city. I really like it. It is small but calm and green with friendly people. I work here and learned German here. But most of my friends are foreigners not Germans. I don’t know if it is usual or I don’t know how to communicate with them.

Arif

 


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