(WOMENSENEWS)–My family decided to move to Sweden a few months ago so my sisters and I could get an education in a peaceful country. I felt nervous and scared about a new life with people I didn’t know. Would I be able to speak my ideas and would I have the chance to do things a girl isn’t allowed to do in Afghanistan? Would I find good friends and do well in school?
When I first arrived, Sweden seemed so different. Everything surprised me. Even though I had seen many things in movies, I hadn’t seen them in real life. I was very surprised at how the girls and women dressed, although I don’t really care what type of clothes they wear; it is their own choice. The buildings in Sweden are so big and every place is green. The day we arrived, it was raining, my favorite weather. I just wanted to feel the raindrops. When I went to visit the sea for the first time, the air smelled different. It was the smell of peace and freedom.
Everyone here is nice. They smile at you or ask, “How are you?” If you are wearing a headscarf they still think of you as a friend. I am not used to the Swedish food so I eat vegetarian food or pizza at school. For the first time I went to the movies at a theater with my family. We watched a funny mystery. Inside the theater were many other people and it was nice when we all sat there with the lights off and only the lighted movie screen. In Afghanistan I had always wished I could go to a movie theater.
It was hard for me to live in a place where a girl isn’t allowed to speak out. In Sweden I found that I can speak out and share my ideas for anyone to hear. In class I am free to ask any question. In Afghanistan, sometimes it was hard to ask a question in public school because the answer I would get was, “Ha ha, you don’t know the answer to a simple question.” My school is co-educational and studying with boys is sometimes hard, but in class we are like friends. We share our ideas, we discuss our lessons, we ask about what we don’t know and we tell what we know.
I am happy now that I have made new best friends. We go to classes, have lunch together and play games on the Internet. We talk about different subjects so we can improve our Swedish. Learning a new language is difficult, but it is fun. I want to learn a lot of languages.
It was difficult to leave my best friends and relatives and all the good people I know in Afghanistan. In the airplane when I looked out my window I just wanted to cry. I was really sad. But then we had 16 hours to spend at the airport in Turkey where we went to a little mosque and it was fun and when we arrived in Sweden I saw my dad for the first time in about two years. It was amazing. Now every day, wherever I go, my memories of my friends are with me. But I can still talk with them on Skype and social media.
But I miss everything about my homeland. I miss Afghan food, talking and having fun. I miss my private school family. I miss our tea parties and dance parties, having classes together and going on school trips. I miss all my teachers.
It was a good decision for our future to come live in a good and peaceful country. Sometimes, even if it is hard, you have to leave something to get to something. Coming to a new country is like beginning a new adventure. I have a journey book where I write about things from different places I have gone. I plan on exploring each and every corner of the world. There is nothing I dislike about my new home. Sweden is the beginning of my journey and I am excited to see the end of it. Inshallah.
This story is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. In 2013 Women’s eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views.
Shahira, 16, is a teen writer with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.