Over the past few days I have been gathering questions from some of you lovely individuals on Twitter and Instagram to create a Q&A blogpost about my life in Greece.
I have tried to keep my answers very real so I haven’t spent a lot of time editing as I think this can take away the personal feel.
I’m doing this mainly to inspire others as going on a journey like this is much easier than you think if you apply the ‘f**k it’ attitude!
1. What’s your favourite Greek food? Breakfast/Dinner/Dessert
Well it’s a little unknown fact that there isn’t really a specialty Greek breakfast. I mean there is but nobody really eats it on a daily basis. Coffee (and for the smokers, a cigarette) tends to be the go-to and a biscuit to follow. Very healthy. I tend to go for cereal so I apologise for my mundane breakfast routine!
There’s so many delicious foods and many of them will vary depending on Island, town or even village. I think my favourite traditional meal would have to be kleftiko. It’s a slow roasted lamb with oil and lemon surrounded by roasted potatoes and yummy vegetables! However I have been to other parts of Greece where it has been more of a cheesy dish.
Traditionally and famously Baklava is the well known dessert in Greece but often during the right time of the season I absolutely love watermelon (καρπούζι – karpouzi)!
2. What made you take the step to move?
I just wasn’t happy in myself. I found myself getting anxious because I wasn’t doing much with my life and at age 21 I was thinking:
I am wasting my early 20’s.
3. What was the biggest challenge you faced?
This is a pretty big one I must say!
Last year I was working in a hotel and I really wasn’t enjoying it as much as the year before. Different people and different experiences kind of tainted how much fun I had in 2016. I also had the security blanket of being employed by a UK company and I was paid into a UK bank account and any problems or worries I could call up the company and they would do their best to support me. The hotel I worked at was also a huge support network and they provided food, laundry and cleaning service once a week so I was taken care of pretty well.
Eventually things got too much and I decided to quit. I’m very lucky as my boyfriend is from Corfu and he has his own place and supported my decision. He was happy for me to move in with him and still is! (I think).
However suddenly trying to find a job in a completely foreign country with different approaches to work life was quite scary and hard work. I had a lot of paper work to fill out and as I don’t speak much Greek I had to lean heavily on my boyfriend to guide and help me through it all.
My confidence took a massive hit as I have never struggled finding work and as I quit my job in the height of summer, there were no (decent or legit) jobs going and I ended up doing some temporary work packing sweets into boxes and serving samples to tourists. I had to take two busses every day to get there and spent almost all my wage on that alone!
There were a lot of times when I thought I should just go back to the UK, make enough money to stay out there for a month or so at the time and then repeat scenario.
I was also very lonely. Living in a country where you don’t know a lot of people and you don’t really know where to start is quite scary and even for people like myself who are pretty content being alone, it got a little too much. All I wanted to do was speak fluent English and use a wider vocabulary. Not that I don’t love talking to others but I could only speak broken Greek and most people could speak only conversational English.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a cafe just up the road from me and it turned out to have a lot of British customers who live out here! The owners also speak great English too and I have made great friends with the fiancee of one of the owners who is also a fellow Yorkshire lass.
📸: Linia Cafe, South Corfu- Credits to Jeni!
It has proven to me that every challenge has something worthwhile at the end of it.
4. How did you make sure you kept a positive mentality when you moved there?
Everything is an experience and if it’s not right, at least I tried! If I ever decide to move back to England then I will always keep this as a positive memory that has built my character, strength and understanding of the world outside a small town life in the UK.
5. How do you deal with the distance?
Reminding myself that if things get tough, it is literally only a flight back home. It takes 3 and a half hours to get to Leeds/Bradford airport or Manchester and I could do it in a couple of days.
I’m also extremely lucky that either one of my parents would take me back into their homes in a heartbeat if I said I was coming back.
6. How did you start the whole thinking/ doing process of moving abroad?
Everything in my life seemed too plain and too routinely and I had a bit of a meltdown about my boring life. My auntie helped me apply for some jobs abroad as this is what she had done when she was younger and 6 months later I packed a suitcase and disappeared!
7. How do you cope living abroad during the times you miss home?
I have regular video chats with my family so I never feel too far away from home.
On the plus side, during the quieter parts of the summer season, flights back to the UK can be really cheap so I will take a week here and there if I really feel like coming home (or it’s a bargain I can’t turn down)!
8. Do you plan on staying there for the foreseeable future?
Absolutely. I love my hectic life here despite moaning about it a lot. Recently, I was reminded by a friend that sometimes life gets a bit tough but I only have to look at the view and my surroundings and remember it could absolutely be worse.
The one thing that would maybe put me off is if the economy got even worse over here. I would seriously have to consider change if it became unbearable!
9. What are some things about Greek Culture that you’ve found challenging,/interesting/fun?
Wow. There’s so much here I can write about!
Not always being able to communicate with everyone is a big difficulty but I know enough words in Greek now to string together a broken sentence if I speak to someone who doesn’t speak English.
Eating really late! Greek people tend to have a late lunch and a late dinner so I actually try to eat my food the same time I would in the UK.
In comparison to the UK, not everything is so accessible. I live in the middle of a tiny village with a bicycle for transport so I rely a lot on my boyfriend to take me places as he’s not really comfortable with me driving his car (different story entirely).
In Greece there are a lot of rules but nobody really abides them. Everything is sort of overlooked unlike the UK so for a while I was very tense and always saying ‘don’t do that you’ll get into trouble!’
Family is a huge thing here and everyone knows who their uncle’s cousins daughter is so when there’s a family event, there’s people EVERYWHERE.
This sort of leads onto the fact that Greek people celebrate just about everything. There’s even a national BBQ day in the middle of winter! I’m not complaining but every celebratory day is another excuse to grill.
The fun part is I’m 5 minutes away from the beach and it’s so easy to just pack a bag and go and relax for a couple of hours!
There’s also a lot of boutique hotels that have swimming pools and let you swim there if you buy a coffee from them or something so sometimes I can pretend I’m on holiday.
10. What culture differences has George found difficult with you?
Ah this is interesting as some things we feel totally the same about and other things we have bickered about before.
We sometimes don’t agree on eating habits, especially when using a knife at the table is basically non-existent in Greece.
It’s also normal for a lot of Greek people to raise their voice a bit when they’re having a discussion so sometimes I will start saying ‘STOP ARGUING WITH ME!’ When there’s no argument to be had.
11. What had inspired you to write a blog?
My lovely friend who helps run her partners cafe up the road from me said my writing was really funny when I sent her Facebook messages having a moan about something so I decided to make use of it.
Life here is also pretty different and it’s fun to share this with others. I hope to inspire a few people to get out of their comfort zone one day and do something unexpected.