After the camp in Torshov, Oslo, I and two others were transferred to a little town in the middle of Norway, Levanger. It was in the end of August 2015 we took the train northbound through the beautiful landscape of Norway. We arrived the station in Levanger in the afternoon and was picked up by employees of our new camp. They were very friendly and I felt safe and happy at last to be settled more permanently than before. The town looked very nice surrounded by a fantastic nature. I liked what I saw, but still a little sad to leave Oslo.
First, I was accommodated in a temporarily house that was old and seemed a little dirty. Luckily, I spent only three days at this house before I was moved to another part of the camp, called Leira. I got my own, small room included a refrigerator and kitchen equipment. Duvet and pillow I had got and brought with me from mine first camp, Refstad.
We were showed around the camp and got some information about the houses and the area. My fellow travelers could not speak English, only Arabic. I became a kind of interpreter for them. I liked the nature around and rented for free a bicycle from the municipality so I could explore the area. I early understood that I had to make my own activities, not only sit inside doing nothing except watching TV. We got money to buy food, clothes and other needed things for the daily life.
In this period one of my sisters married in Damascus. I called my brother in Skype so I could follow the wedding. When I watched my family and the party, I felt touched and some tears came into my eyes. I felt once more all alone and missed my family. During the wedding ceremony I could not imagine there were a war going on outside the building. The guests wore their finest clothes, the restaurant was beautiful decorated and the bride and groom looked extremely happy.
October the 10th 2015 is still a memory day for me. This was the day I got an appointment for interview with UDI. I got plain tickets to Oslo. I missed my friends in Oslo and applied for leave to stay with one of them in 10 days. He let me stay at his house and we had a very nice time together.
In the interview they first asked a lot to confirm my identity. They looked at my papers and asked questions. They assumed I was Muslim and I had to convince them that I was a Christian. I explained why I left Russia and why I could not stay there. I told them the truth that my working permission would expire in four months and they probably would send me back to Syria. I was then very confused and not sure if I dared to tell I am gay. I thought they maybe would close my case if I told them. But one of my friends in Oslo had told me I had to tell. I tried carefully to tell, told about the girl in Russia who wanted to marry me. I told I was not capable to a marriage with a woman. Not to fulfill my obligations as a husband. Mumbled something about people in Syria would say I suffered of a disease. Told about the priest who too called me a sick man. I felt they didn’t understand and told at last that all this meant I was gay. For the first time I said the word gay to a stranger. The interview lasted for three hours. I was exhausted when I got out.
My friend invited me to a cruise to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. When we arrived, I didn’t dare to go out into the town and stayed onboard some hours before returning to Oslo.
In Oslo there is a club called Bear Club, a special club for mostly adult men, beard and big belly is no obstacle. There I met John, not as a sexual partner, but as a friend. He supported me, gave me advices and kept in touch later in Levanger. I still have contact with him as a good friend, and in Christmas holiday this year we spent a little time together. He even held a speech for me at my birthday in Gran Canaria. I probably will mention his name in other articles because he means so much for me.
Back in Levanger I went to school to learn Norwegian and social studies. Sometimes we had meeting in the camp for information about Norway.
People around me in the camp got answers from UDI quickly, but not me. I started to get nervous if they would send me back to Russia. In December I hadn’t got any answer and my working permit in Russia expired. At the same time there came thousands of refugees crossing the Russian/Norwegian border in Storskog. Bicycling. There is an agreement between the two countries that one cannot pass the border by foot, it has to be by wheels. The Norwegian minister of integration wanted to stop this migration and wanted to send all of them back to Russia. I was afraid they would not let me stay because of this. I talked to a lawyer at the camp about my fear, but she comforted me and meant that I already had applied for protection. That the new political view would not have retroactive force.
December was for me a very bad month. My birthday December the 23th felt terrible. The Christmas was next day and my mood was bad. A friend in Levanger I had met in the hospital introduced me to the Catholic church in Levanger. The priest invited me and some other Christians for dinner Christmas eve. That was nice, helped a little for my mood. We played Bingo and lightened the Christmas tree. I had talked to the priest before and he had been very supportive and helpful. But the rest of the Christmas time and the new year eve was for me awful. As I felt last year in Russia. I wanted to go to Oslo, but did not have any money to travel.
At the same time, I felt a kind of relief. Before and under the interview I was confused about my sexuality. I was afraid of telling myself I am gay. When I for the first time announced to a stranger I was gay, I felt more secure of my own feelings. And there was something new about it, that I felt proud of being myself as gay.
2016 was also a terrible year, even worse. This I will write about in the next article.