Amaal is in the second year of her architecture degree. Like many of her peers she worked incredibly hard to get there. But her story is quite unlike the others’.
I remember it vividly. I was 13, at home in Iraq, sitting on my terrace in the sun. Suddenly a bomb fell metres from where I was sitting and exploded with the most terrifying bang. I was so close to being killed. It was after that my family made the decision to move to Syria.
Syria was the most lovely, safe country at that time. I grew up there and have the best memories of it. I studied there and finished high school. Then, in 2011, life became dangerous again. We were selected to be resettled in the UK.
The day I found out we were coming I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to move again. I didn’t want to leave my friends again. My school again. To leave everything behind for a second time.
The Syria that I knew isn’t there any more, though many of my friends still are. For the first three years after we moved to England, I was obsessed with listening to the news about Syria. Those were awful years. I cried myself to sleep at night. Only last year, I decided to stop listening to the news altogether.
But when we arrived in the UK, it was like a dream.
I was 20. I went to college and continued learning English. I learnt really quickly. My brother used to call me ‘the Interpreter’ as I helped the rest of my family with the language. The accent was quite tough at first to understand, but after four years in Hull I have the accent myself!
Without the support of the Refugee Council I would never have been able to settle in so fast. Resettlement completely changed my life because now I am living my dream – to study architecture. Now I am safe. Sometimes I still remember sitting at home in Iraq. I remember the sounds, the bombs. People dying in the street.
If the UK government hadn’t decided to help us I have no idea where I would be.
My experiences led me to want to study architecture. I want to help rebuild Iraq and Syria, those two beautiful countries where I grew up. For my dissertation next year I will focus on buildings for health and housing. That is what we most need.
I hope more refugees will be given the chances I was given. To be safe. To study. To have a future and to give back.