I am a PhD student at Malmö University, Sweden and came to Birmingham for six months to do research among undocumented migrants and destitute asylum seeking families. In Sweden I am actively involved in refugee rights. I am married and will become a father in the autumn of 2015.
In Birmingham it has been easiest to integrate with other migrants; you share being an outsider. But I have also made contacts through the university. It is important to have a context to integrate through, that makes it easier.
Sweden and England are quite similar so I thought things would be the same as in Sweden, but there are small differences which over time made a huge difference. You feel like you don't always understand what is happening or that you fit in. Over time those kinds of small differences can be harder to handle than big differences because they are not so clear.
Since my research is about Birmingham that is going to feed into the discussion about what it is like to be a migrant here. I try to combine my research with volunteering in a youth group on Wednesdays in Coventry.
If you are a migrant planning to move to Birmingham I would give the following advice:
I was afraid in the beginning, wasn't sure what it was going to be like, what people would think of me, if they would be welcoming or not, but I decided I am just going to go for it and reach out and try and see. And everyone I met has been really welcoming and friendly.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is to have that courage and try and go against your fear, still try and reach out to people even though you are scared. Go to places and start volunteering or start getting engaged in different activities. Because as soon as you get to know one person, then you get to know that person's friends and it is snowballing from there.
This interview is part of a series of stories of migrants in Birmingham produced by participants of Migrant Voice's 'Many Faces, One City' project. The project celebrates the contribution of migrants to life in Birmingham. It brought together migrants and host community in Birmingham to build their skills in telling stories of migration through text, photo, film and social media.