Afraa Batous is 33 years old. She is from Aleppo but lived for a time in Damascus then Beirut before moving to Germany in 2016. She has family in Nuremburg, where she first lived for a year, and in Berlin. She is enrolled in a film school in the German capital and is currently working on a documentary film that tells the stories of a group of Syrian women (Afraa and her friends) who revisit their points of entry in Europe, as well as the countries they traversed on their journeys.
She loves her studies but finds integration to be difficult. She lived for several years in Beirut before coming to Germany and does not know where she will ultimately settle. She speaks German well but did not like the German language classes and preferred learning the language by studying something that interested her. In film school, her German got better as all her courses are in German. Her studies in film production demand good English even more than German. She studied English literature in Halab University in Syria. She feels that learning German has made her weaker in all three of her languages in the sense that she is self critical when speaking all three.
Afraa does not like to isolate herself with Syrians but feels a bit estranged from them too, abandoning old lives and ways only to exist ill at ease in her new life. Her responses to questions about social integration and belonging are preceded by long, awkward silences and often her responses are “I don’t know.” She is kind and warm.
She comes from a political family and her father was a communist in Syria. She is an atheist and religion has no place in her life.
She does not know whether she would return to Syria in the future.