I arrived in the Netherlands in 2015. The winds of war carried me here like a tiny feather. I landed with tons of memories and a childhood filled with mystic practices. I also had a master’s degree in translation, which I discovered later that it does not mean anything if you were a feather.
So as anyone in his late thirties, my life’s course has been already determined, I was enjoying a marvellous carrier, fulfilling, achieving and all these glamorous verbs, and suddenly… the war in Syria broke out. After losing the hope of winning a democracy to replace the oppressive system the Syrian people had to endure for decades, I decided to flee to save my children.
The years went by, while I was learning the language of the country I chose deliberately to be the safe home of my family. In these language classes, I met people from all over the globe, who migrated to the Netherlands for different reasons, I perceived that I was older than the teachers and the students. On the other hand, I was preoccupied with my former accomplishments, my heritage, traditions and a persistent motive to move forward, since I did not have the luxury of looking back. Looking back to a former life is a suicide plan you develop over the years, when you acknowledge your endless weakness as a trivial individual who happened to survive a bloody semi-civil, semi-world war. You are acknowledged by the authorities as a number, and your possessions are acknowledged as material casualties, while your parents’ graves are considered a war zone, and your car had to join an army for a vague reason. Your cloths on the other hand had to be used by other armies, and what you gathered in your whole life had to be burnt to warm some soldiers. You lose. You become a loser.
The only light I saw in this dark tunnel was the ambiguous future, the days to come, the shapeless days and the incomparable times to be created. I felt somehow invincible!
After researching my options, I decided to follow the passion I got since I was a little child, religion. Utrecht university accepted my application, offering me a chance to a new life, a life that can never be lost.
Destiny proved to have a luscious sense of humour. When I was young, I read about Spinoza, the descendant of a family of Portuguese immigrants who had to leave their country and settled down in the Netherlands -just like me, escaping the Spanish inquisition in the 16th century. He became one of the early intellectuals of the Enlightenment era and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of oneself and the universe. He came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century. Inspired by the ground breaking ideas of René Descartes, Spinoza became a leading philosophical figure of the Dutch Golden Age, and he is known as the prince of philosophers. Spinoza, the immigrants’ descendant, studied in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Den Haag. He was never downsized to his situation as a refugee. I found comfort in Spinoza’s life story, proving a profound model of finding meaning in what seems to be a meaningless course of actions, finding myself in an ocean of ambiguity.
Today, I look forward to the day of my graduation because I know that having this degree, accompanied by the cultural insight with which I am equipped, would lead to a fulfilling and a successful carrier in international organizations, or in the academic field. I hope to be given the chance to proceed my study in Middle Eastern studies, and to have an academic carrier to convey my experience to others, shaping the future with the taste of the vivid past with which I am blessed.