Expat zone
Posted on: Apr 19, 2013

Astronaut waiting at the traffic light


This post is also available in Greek

There have been many times where you found yourself getting whipped by the rain and lashed by the air but you kept waiting for the traffic light to turn green in order to across. You see in front of you bikes passing you by and after a year you start to understand this 2-wheeled madness.

Immediately you recognize if the rider is a “trained” northerner from these icy lands, or some poor expat like you that came from the warmer countries and is suffering here. You see all these blond blue-eyed people, without wearing gloves or scarves to “conquer” the bike lanes, while texting or smoking. The cold apparently doesn't affect them.

You are still at the traffic light, waiting... lost in the music you have on, you got a lot of time to think. Observe all those that go by in front of you and those that patiently wait along with you to get across. This time you spend facing your thoughts can pull you down many times. Pulls you back.

I mean, not having a car?

how many times did that little complain pass through your head.

Back home you had your car and you could be wherever you wanted in no time. You parked outside of the Tax office or the place you were having your coffee. Here, the dropped you in the deep end, no car, no frappe and smoking and no “guy you know” to erase the traffic tickets. And still you wait outside, in the cold for hours, on the traffic stop, outside of a train, a bus or a tram.

You came here a proud expat to conquer the land of freedom and opportunity. You armed yourself with your diplomas (always translated and verified with the Hague’s seal - thats how they told you, you should present them), or the years of experience on your back, made photocopies, emailed them everywhere, lit up a cigarette and waited for the call that never came.

With 3 bags (10kg on the shoulder, 20kg your bag and the 3rd one you paid for 60 euros), 3000 euros in your pocket, the dog and a couple of closets filled with dreams. Asking for the minimum respect, because, its not really your fault about this crisis. You came as an expat but within the first three months you realized that your diplomas and your masters which you got with so much work sometimes aren’t worth more that English LOWER degree certified by the University of Cambridge.

Within the first three months from an expat you became an immigrant and as the months pass by, you realize that there are no excuses for the choices and things you did back home. Here it doesn’t even cross your mind to try and act the same way. You have to forget the jobs and comforts you were dreaming of. You came for a restart and it’s still loading. After all, how many things could fit in those 3 bags?

You found yourself in this country without starts to find what you were missing and you ended up without friends, work, money, wrapped with all the scarves that you could afford waiting on the traffic light, lost in your thoughts.

Suddenly the silence is broken and people start bumping into you. The light is green now and you need to wake up or else you are in danger of getting hit by a bike or a tram. You look around, smile. Now, you see the beauty. You made it on your own up too here and you can still get across an Amsterdam traffic light. Turns out, you had everything you needed all along in those bags.

In Greece when you were a kid and the asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up, you said an astronaut. And if you never said it out loud, deep down you wanted too, you were just shy. You knew that if you really wanted it, you could, that was it. But now you grew up and the shining stars that filled the summer skies were taken away.

To become an astronaut now is a bit hard,

you think, so you just decide to move to rhythm of the music and continue on your way. Do you still remember where you were going?

The photos were taken from my good friend & photo-ninja Thrasos Panou.

Born in Volos in 1980. As a kid was filled many concerns about life. Sports lover, naturalist and big fan of travelling. He has majored in multimedia development and the past few years he's grown passionate for photography and photo editing. His purpose is to offer the world the best images one can shoot and edit. Believes that everybody has an artist inside. It only takes for one to believe in himself. You can find about more at Thrasos website: Thrasivoulos Panou Photography


Designer, marketer & a social media karate kid (No 4). When she grows up, she wants to feed the world with Greek food & Frappe. Admires the yellow angry bird because it strikes its targets with power and precision.