A. H. fled to Germany as a refugee from Bosnia right before the beginning of the Bosnian War in 1992.
After spending some time in Germany she relocated to America as a refugee in 1998. Upon her arrival to the United States Alma instantly recognized the difference of quality of life for refugees in America compared to that of Germany’s.
America’s support system for newly arrived refugees was less generous than Germany’s, hitting her and her family with an unexpected reality.
Ah, look at you! Oh my god...goodness. I do not believe this was eighteen years ago.
First day, you see the roads and you see the buildings when you walk into that. But after that, it was so many things like stores, like...It was a horrible day because when you get here, everything was different. Then you realize, you know, thinking that you have to stay...is just give you so much anxiety. *laughs*
I remember when we got to the apartment complex we were shocked by the wooden stairs. Like, we never saw that there is building all in wood with even wooden stairs. *laughs* I just remember, “Oh my god, this is so ugly. This is so ugly!” *laughs*
We come from Germany. That’s why, I mean, that’s the issue. That’s why we didn’t experience….We were in better place than here. You know, the complex are in cement or with a nice walls and you know, here when you get in those wooden buildings and *laughs* over there you get everything. That’s what I said on the plane. When we get here, we’re just gonna use the government funding and get rested, learn the language, and go start to work. But actually, when you realize that here you don’t get anything, we have to start work before we even doubt we will. But over there, you’re secure. They give you apartment, they give you money to pay for apartment, money for the food. But we never use it, we actually start working.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.