Holidays Without Return. Dina’s Path to Turkey

Dina is 27 years old and comes from Aleppo. Here she talks about her escape, her hopes and the things she had to leave behind.

Dina, private picture.

So, my story started in 2012 summer. Normally, every summer me and my brother, we go to United Arab Emirates (UAE) to visit my dad. So that summer we were there just to visit and go back to Syria to study again. Unfortunately, when we went there the war started in Syria. And all our plans were just canceled and we couldn’t go back again. So, even my stuff… I left everything behind because my plan was to come back to Syria, my school was there but we couldn’t. I wanted to go back but our parents didn’t give permission to us to go back, that’s why we stayed in United Arab Emirates for around nine months. Then my plan, going back to my home town was always in my mind because I just wanted go to my university, see my friends. My life that time has just started and you know, something happens and cancels everything you like and your whole life. […]

So, we stayed in UAE for nine months, I said that before. My mom was living in Syria, when we were in UAE. Because my mom and dad were divorced. So, my mom was living under the war conditions and she tried to find a way to go out of the city. She went with my relatives, they fled from Syria to Turkey. Then she started her life in here. And we’ve been, like just to trying to contact her all the time while we were with my dad, until she came to Adana and started her life normally here. She started working and she had some friends here. So, one of her friends was working in Çukurova University, and they told her that me and my brother should go to this university and start our studies there. So, that was like a hope for us because studying in UAE was really expensive, so that was like a good plan to continue our education. So, we packed our baggage, we travel to Adana, so it was like my first, how to say, first experience to go out of Arabic speaking countries. It was a shock for me because, it wasn’t, my consent there. I didn’t consent to go away and leave everything. So that’s why everything was so hard, to got to a country you cannot speak the language, you don’t know anyone and you have no one at all.


Dina is 27 years old and comes from Aleppo. When the war in Syria began in 2011, she was visiting her father in the United Arab Emirates with her siblings. After nine months in the Emirates, she went to live with her mother, who had fled Syria to Turkey in the meantime. Dina lives in Istanbul and has a degree in Fine Arts. She works as a graphic designer and freelance artist.



This interview was conducted in 2021 in English via video call by Elif Yenigun for the We Refugees Archiv.