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 We had to go to Aleppo to take exams. The day we arrived, I was very tired. At dawn, a bomb was found around the corner but I didn't hear anything because I was sleeping soundly.

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Even though it was very difficult, I totally focused on the books for a fortnight. I had the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho with me. As soon as I wanted to escape reality, I read it.

In Syria, the system works like this: you don't pass a general exam. Each subject has a different exam date; for example mathematics one day, biology the next and history another day. Exams last 18 days. These are written exams, so you really need to focus.

I was worried about the math exam but it was also my favorite. My office was near a broken window. There were pieces of glass everywhere.

I told the invigilator who said, "I don't want to know, either you take the exam or you leave."

I said okay. I took off my sweater, cleaned the table and then started writing. I got a good grade on this exam, so I am aware that I have the necessary knowledge.

My family started asking me where I wanted to study. I decided to go to Turkey.

On August 18, 2014, at 2 p.m. sharp, my mother and I crossed the Turkish border. It was a Monday. I will never forget it. She enrolled me in classes. We found a university residence for me and she went back to Syria.

My family didn't want to leave Syria. Leaving Syria or going to another city is not possible for them, even if they have experienced difficult times. I think my father and mother are like two olive trees; they cannot survive if they are uprooted.

I was alone and moved to the Turkish city of Mersin. I was very excited. I wanted to learn so much, but I didn't speak Turkish. So I worked very hard to learn the language. Watching cartoons helped me.

I completely focused on the courses, like math, geometry and other subjects to pass the university entrance exam. During these six months, even though I only took a few Turkish language classes, I learned Turkish by practicing with others and reading books.

Then I started taking the exams and got very good grades. When the results were announced, I understood what I wanted to do. I turned to the most authentic thing for me, the earth.

When I was a child, I built houses with earth, stones and water. I was constantly building one-storey houses, then two-storey houses and even three-storey houses.

My instinct told me that I had to study architecture and so it was in this subject that I enrolled. I told my parents that I wanted to become an architect. They showed almost no opposition because they knew I would.

In fact, with my family, we realized that it was not necessary to be present all together physically. I love dreaming and I do it well. So when I miss my family, I close my eyes, just remember a happy moment from the past and relive that moment. Sometimes it's good but, at the same time, it upsets me.

I joined the Karadeniz University Institute of Technology. Some students shouted "you, the Syrian." In fact, I have no pride in my origin because I don't think there's anything to be proud of. If I was born there, it's a total coincidence. I have spent most of my adult life in Turkey. I have a sense of belonging to this country. I want to offer him something in return.

After graduating, I had to move immediately to a big city. I arrived in Ankara for the first time. I have carefully prepared a presentation file.

It took me almost a month. I prepared it by thinking about every detail of this file, as well as my CV. During this period, I was trying to improve myself by following different trainings.

The pandemic began in early 2020. Just as I was starting my job search, the offers started to decrease. I had studied architecture and I wanted to make this training that I loved my profession.

Not finding a job in Ankara, I decided to try my luck in Istanbul. On the day I arrived, a friend sent me a link to an ILO work-based apprenticeship programme called İŞMEP. Through this program, I started working as an architect at Tuana Projects, a consulting firm.

As a Syrian, it is very difficult to get formal employment and access social security. However, thanks to the İŞMEP program, I started working in a formal setting. I also took several trainings that were very useful to me.

As part of my job as an architect, I have worked on many projects abroad, especially in the countries of the Middle East, whether in terms of three-dimensional modeling, visualization or design.

I have worked on projects to design a mosque and a school, the design of a village as well as shelter projects. I particularly want to focus on shelter projects. Because people's basic need is to have a solid roof.

Of all the Turkish writers, I prefer Sabahattin Ali. I think he's my number one. One of his books, "The Devil in Us" (İçimizdeki Şeytan), touched me a lot.

The character of Ömer impressed me enormously. There is a phrase in the book that I will never forget. I repeat it to myself every day, every time I have my morale at zero: "The devil is not in us! We are weak in our hearts, we lack will."

So, rather than despair, I wondered what I could do best to find a job.

I participated in training programs, improved my Turkish and tried to improve my English as well, which is also a new language for me. I even started learning French. I like to improve constantly.


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