Morning mist is still clinging on to the trees and woods as David pulls his car into the yard of the collective accommodation “yellow house” in Laiz, a suburb of the southern German city of Sigmaringen. It’s 10 o’clock in the morning, Kamran steps out of the house with a big smile on his face. A few minutes later, David and Kamran sit at a small table between bunk beds with a hot cup of tea in their hands. Kamran takes a sip from his chai tea and relates:

I am a journalist. Or better, I was a journalist. But no, I am a journalist, although my occupation is put on hold at the moment. What I basically do for a little income? I work at McDonald’s during the night. But, it is just temporary. Preparing Hamburgers and Chicken Nuggets is my job at the moment – it’s not my profession.

Back in Pakistan, I was reporting from a war zone for international newspapers. Things got really chaotic and dangerous, so I had to leave the country. I am here in Sigmaringen for over two years now, waiting for my asylum interview, still waiting to carry on with my life. So basically, what I am doing is: I wait, and wait, and wait. Without having the official refugee status, you can’t start language courses, so I taught myself some German. It was driving me crazy doing nothing, so I looked for a job. Now, I work at McDonald’s, earning a little money. I can practice some German and get in touch with people outside the camp. But to be honest, it is not the best way to really get started in a foreign country. Serving people at the McDonalds window can be seen as a metaphor describing my living situation in an ironic manner: I am here in Germany, safe, but I am separated to society. I am in contact with Germans, but they rush away in front of my window. I have a job, but it’s not my profession.

How to proceed from here? I feel kind of stuck in a false sense of security. I am grateful having the opportunity to work at McDonald’s, but that doesn’t help me carrying on with my real life. In fact, I really have to be careful not to lose contact with my actual occupation. I do write some articles for local newspapers, attend workshops for persecuted journalists and do some radio reports at Freies Radio für Stuttgart. These are nice opportunities, but I can’t live from it. In Pakistan, I worked really hard acquiring the necessary skills and journalistic experience. I don’t want to lose all this. Quitting journalism is not an option for me. I’ve never spared a thought about it, not even for a second.

I recently found a flat. So, I will move out of the camp in the next few days. Regarding my journalistic writing, I’m really looking forward to a calmer working atmosphere there. But my job at McDonald’s will still be time-consuming. That means some hard and work-intensive times lie ahead of me to regain my footing in journalism. But, I am deeply confident I will be a journalist again. For me, it is not just a profession, it is part of my personality.

Note: Shortly after the meeting, Kamran had his asylum interview. He is very hopeful that his asylum status gets cleared and that he finally can get started properly here in Germany.

Written by David