People from many different countries live, study and work in Eindhoven. Every week, Innovation Origins has a talk with an international about what brought them here and what life is like in Eindhoven.

Name: Ahmad Alshreidi
Country of origin: Syria
Study: preparatory year for Pharmaceutical Science

In our search for stories from internationals in Eindhoven, photographer Diewke found Ahmad in the private Facebook group of residents the apartment complex where they both live. He posted a message to introduce himself because just moved into his loft. On Diewke’s request for him to tell his story, he said yes. When we meet Ahmad for the interview, he tells us that he lives here in Eindhoven since 20 days. “I am happy that I live here now, I have spoken to more people here than in my precious neighbourhood.” Ahmed has been living in the Netherlands for two and a half years now. He first lived in an asylum seekers’ centre, or camp as he calls it, and also lived in Oss for a while. And now it’s Strijp S. “A friend that I met in the camp also lives in Eindhoven. I like that. Eindhoven is also a bit bigger than Oss and there is more to do here. I’m from Aleppo, a city with six million inhabitants. It takes a bit of time to get used to smaller places like Oss and Eindhoven.”

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    Until Ahmad received a residence permit, he was not allowed to work or study. “I wanted to get started, but I wasn’t allowed. In Syria, I studied Biochemistry, but because of the war, I could not finish it. I also had to enrol in the Syrian army and I really didn’t want that. I’ve always wanted to study abroad, but because of the war, that became almost impossible. In the end, I decided to go anyway. My father wanted me to go to Belgium because we have family there, but the Netherlands appealed more to me. I had the feeling that the people here are very nice and that the country is very well off, and now that I am here, I know that that’s right. The journey I made to come here took a long time and was dangerous.” To the question, if he would make the trip once more, his answer is yes without a doubt. “But I don’t want my brothers, sisters or parents, to do the same – it’s too dangerous for them, I think.”

    (Story continues after photo)

    By the time Ahmad was allowed to study here, he started immediately. He speaks Dutch very well, and that is something he really wants to be able to do, also for his future study. “I want to study pharmaceutical science, but I still have to pass a number of subjects in Dutch. I do my exam in mathematics, physics and chemistry through the Central Commissions Preliminary Exam (the CCVX). I have passed my mathematics exam and now I’m studying physics. I hope because Eindhoven is a larger city, the municipality can also do more to help me as a student. I have also contacted the UAF, an organization that helps refugees with counselling and financial support for their study. Unfortunately, there was no budget to help me at the time I applied.”

    Diewke tells Ahmad a bit more about the building they live in, it is a refurbished Philips factory and mentions he can always ask for help via the Facebook group. Ahmad: “So I noticed! On my message, I got invitations for dinners and tips on nice things in Eindhoven. So nice! I was the third person on the list after the draw for this house, but number one and two did not want it. I got lucky and said yes immediately. I still have to get used to the fact that the space is so high and that the ceiling is not finished, but I suppose it sort of comes with the building. The rooftop garden is the best of this building, I often go up there.”

    Photography: Diewke van den Heuvel
    Read more stories of internationals here.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Sabine te Braake is a writer and an entrepreneur. She loves Eindhoven, the city where she once started as a student.