Jamila’s story

My name is Jamila; it means “beautiful”. I love my first name and I also like Aziza, because my mother called me Aziza when I was a child. I am 45 years old, I come from Jendouba, northern Tunisia. I speak Arabic, and I am currently learning French. I am married, I have a 12-year-old daughter. I work as a hairdresser and in the field of Hijama (Cupping, a type of massage).

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Jamila's life in Tunisia

I lived with my family in Tunisia before I got married. I have three sisters and four brothers, I was the closest to my mother among my siblings. I went to school until sixth grade. At the age of 14, I trained in Hijama, which became my job, then I started working as a hairdresser in a hair salon, until I succeeded to create my own salon in Tunisia.

My daughter met her father for the first time at age 7, when he was able to return from France. He came back for a short stay in the summer, but my daughter didn’t accept him whatsoever: he was like a stranger. Then he started playing with her and buying her presents until she started to get used to him. Since that summer, he visited us in Tunisia every summer in August and 25 days in winter, because his French papers were finally regularized.

How did you arrive in France?

I Indeed arrived in France on July 14th, the National Day. I came with the help of my husband, for a family reunification, with my daughter. My husband lived and worked in France. It was not the first time that I had tried coming. I had applied for a tourist visa a few years earlier, but my application was refused. Seven years later we tried again to do a family reunification and finally we got a positive response.

Regarding my trip from Tunisia to Marseille, to tell the truth, it was magnificent. I arrived with my daughter at Marseille airport. It was surprising for me, it is my favorite place in town! Honestly, Tunis airport is also beautiful, well organized, especially from the inside. But I enjoyed the splendid and magical view when leaving Marseille airport, that’s why I think it’s the most beautiful.

My life in France

The first thing I learned was transportation, so I could get around and go out. It took me about 15 to 20 days to understand the transport system. Every day I went out to discover a new place and that is how I learned to get by.

The difficulties I encountered when I arrived… The most important was the language: French is a difficult language for me, that’s why I couldn’t build relationships with people. I still have difficulties speaking and meeting new people or integrating into society because I don’t speak French well; I can only handle it for the essential things, it takes energy from me.

In my daily life, I am a housewife, I spend my time taking care of my family and my daughter. I have not yet joined associations to help me integrate into society. I hope, when I have obtained my papers and that I am well settled, to be able to register with Pôle Emploi to work.

“Thank God, fortunately”, I did not suffer from any housing problem when I arrived: there was my husband’s apartment, and I also have family here in France: my sister, my two brothers , my husband’s father, my cousins.

Regarding the integration of my daughter in France, it was not easy at first, but she quickly integrated into school and had new friends with whom she is often in contact.

My feelings between France and Tunisia

I really like Tunisia: I prefer it. It was not a goal for me to come and live in France, but I came for my husband, because he works here. In my opinion, the difference between France and Tunisia is that life in France is better from a material point of view. On the other hand in Tunisia I feel at home, I feel comfortable, there is tenderness, there is my mother and there is my family.

Advices for migrants who want to settle in France...

My advice is that they learn the language fluently, that they come legally so that they can sort out their administrative situation and settle in without problems, because life in Europe is not given to undocumented people, without work and without a residence permit. Me, for example, my situation was clear and good, I was not worried about anything, because I rejoined my husband here. On the other hand, my brother came to France, his administrative situation was not entirely clear, he was frustrated at having made several attempts in vain and he ended up returning to Tunisia after thirteen years of trying.

Jamila's ambition in the future

I see myself with my family in ten years from now; my daughter and my husband here in France. I came for them; for the future of my daughter and for her installation, I make short-term concessions. Its future, its happiness and its success are for me my ambition and my sole objective.