Expat zone
Posted on: Jun 05, 2013

My friends are leaving


This post is also available in Greek

When I first set foot in this icy country I was full of dreams. I left the life I was building over 30 years and came to start again from 0. For a month I was preparing my bags, taking out and putting back in things that I could bring along. I thought that all that would matter. It would matter if my bed sheets smelled like Greece, if my mixer was the “good” one and if my clothes would be the “ideal” ones for a future interview.

It took me a month to realise that the one thing I mostly wanted to take with me within those 3 bags, were my friends. My friends, which I had picked one by one, so carefully and loved, so much. I knew I would make good friends here, the kind that would understand what I am going through, since they are going through it themselves, and thats what actually happened.

It didn’t happen right away, it took time, because skype was keeping me awake many nights, waiting for a ring to share my news but also my surreal new adventures, with friends that I had left behind. But, as the time went on, skype kept going more silent by the day.

I need to make friends,

I thought and refreshed my Facebook page for the thousandth time.

So I took the decision, inspite of the constant rainfall, to start and socialize in order to find people, like me, and to not settle down with a friend that doesn’t “cover” me.

And friends I did find! Not where I was looking for, because friendship doesn’t work like that. I met them in random shops, or from people I just knew, or places that I would never Imagine I would make friends. I found Greeks, Lithuanians, Turks and Chinese friends that I love and have fun with, finally, after all this time. With these friends, I dreamed of houses, one next to the other, and Greek neighborhoods with our future kids playing on the street and making the most noise. Like in those U.S movies were all the Greek expats live in the same big neighbourhood. Cliche dreams, some might say, of a Greek that is far away from the sea, the sand and the sun.

I’m outta here, I’m going to Greece,
- I can’t stand it anymore here, I think I’ll be happier there

said 2 months ago one of my friends.

Greece? What is he going to do in Greece?

Many questions were born inside my head. I haven’t spent a minute to think about going back.

2 Weeks later, a second friend, got his bike and returned by home. Maybe it was for the heat, maybe he was bored of being treated like an immigrant, maybe he ‘ll never come back.

My friends started to leave, one by one. The country is sending them away slowly but steadily. With the cold, the rain but mainly with its people. Not just the Dutch alone, but Greeks alike.

They got tired of being taken advantaged of by their own people and get work from them, like immigrants, with the lowest pay and “zero” contracts, or non existent contracts. They got sick and tired of working for survival and not for building something. They didn’t win something by moving here, they only lost the sun and their friends.

They came here for a new start, from scratch, like me. I know what the went through and I know their thoughts. Thats why I told them to go wherever they feel happy.

They say that the second and third winter, are the toughest. But, if you can get through them, you will be ok. After my first winter my friends started leaving. I am still here. I don’t want to go yet. I don’t want to go at all. I want to stay here, with my friends!

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.