One year. That’s all it took me to get back to writing. I can’t believe I almost gave up for a moment. You know, this is what I do. This is who I am. I can’t help it. Moving out of your country is not an easy task. You must give up your identity. You have to become someone else. You have to adjust. Otherwise, you are done for.
Back in 2017, around this time of the year, I was finishing with my studies in Athens. It was officially the end of an era, where my pen was about to be put in hiatus (manga fans will understand). Now, I had to figure out what was next to happen. There was only one problem: I was broke, unemployed, and living in a country formerly renowned throughout the world for its cultural and scientific breakthroughs, now known for its financial crisis and corruption.
Moving back to my mom’s house was not an option for me. I hope you see the reason. Some Greek fellows of mine back home might not though. In the end, there was only one option for someone like me- migration. I knew I wanted to study more, to explore new concepts and theories, to see what’s going on out there. I know I am not the first, as I very well know I am not going to be the last either, unfortunately (?).
So, I took the decision. I made that “heroic”, “risky”, and “necessary” step. It took me only three weeks of disturbing job interviews around the country, a week of doing random gigs in exchange for petty sums of money, and another two weeks of preparing, to get to Scotland. Don’t ask me “why Scotland”. The starting point for each individual differs depending on their past. To me it was Scotland anyway.
The beginning is not easy if you don’t have someone to support you, especially financially, trust me. You have to rely on strangers’ kindness, your instincts, and pure luck. Yes, it needs to be lucky to get your plan to be successful. This, actually applies to any situation in any place. There’s been so many people that did the exact same thing long before me and yet they failed due to lack of luck (see what I did there?).
You must work a lot. You must work hard. Sickness is not an option. You have to prove yourself worthy enough to stay even at some shitty job. You have to compromise, forget, or better put, postpone your values and ethics, live with people you wouldn’t even say “hi” otherwise, and even pay a lot of money to them on top. You forget your rights, your eating habits, and your sleeping pattern. You basically become someone else. Someone you wouldn’t recognize in front of a mirror. But it bares fruit in the end. Oh, it does!
No one said it would be easy, and if someone did as such to you, they lied. Even if you didn’t have to follow the same path as I did, you’re still getting what I am talking about if you’re an expat.
“Expat”, what a word. Comes from ‘expatriate’, which means leaving your ‘patrida’ (πατρίδα in Greek), the grounds your father’s (the family leader’s) nest is. During my time in Edinburgh I never called myself as such. I was feeling more of an immigrant, which I actually was. There is a massive difference between these two terms, you know. And the name of that difference in between is “quality of life”. Now that I live in Amsterdam I can see it clearly. Soon, I will explain it to you as well. For the time being, I am experiencing it on my own.
I never mentioned the motives of this chronicle, did I? (Yes, it took me a Bachelor’s in journalism to get to that term, so it’s not an article.) I am not writing to you to tell you what to do. I am not writing to you to tell how to do it either. I just get the feeling that there are so many people out there who want to know what it’s like to leave home, and so many that just can’t express it in words. Not just in Greece, and definitely not for the same reasons. The advantages, and the downsides. The beauty and the ugliness of it. The stress and the sanity you can get. So, on these grounds, I decided to start a series of chronicles about living abroad.
Consider this as my “welcome letter” to this new series. I only hope I can transfer to you the feelings I am getting through this process as effectively and lively, as my keyboard can possibly afford.
In the meantime, enjoy your day wherever you may be people. Cheers!