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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some Tips on Living in Greece 居住希臘小建言

If you are not so fluent in English, you can use this to translate the text below into Chinese:

My personal experience:

1. If you are too lazy to learn Greek, you should not think about living in Greece because government workers here are not usually fluent in English, and later you will burn enough money to hire home tutors for your kids.
2. If you think travelling in Greece is the same as living in Greece, you are too optimistic because the hotels staffs are courteous, but the majority Greek drivers are not.
3. If you are spoiled back home, many Greek men are much more spoiled by their mothers, and the two of you together will be a disaster.
4. If you are very independent, your in-laws may “prevent” you from being so because Greek families are very “close” in distance and in relationship (including living on different floors of the same building, or keep giving you Greek food that you may be tired of eating).
5. If you like an organized society, this place is full of strikes (including garbage workers, teachers, public transit employees…).
6. If you think you can find work based on your professional training or trade, you are again too optimistic.
7. If you don’t have a sense of humor when you encounter difficulties, you will not like it here either.
8. If you like veggies, you may miss a lot of varieties that Taiwan can offer; but if you like meat, there are always souvlakis and gyros everywhere until late at night.
9. If you like to compare prices before making up your mind on a purchase, you will not like shopping here. (Yes, things are not cheap here, but you still have to live.)
10. If I have scared you away, Greece still boasts to have the best climate in Europe, and the sweetest grapes in the world.


Anonymous said...

If the purpose of writting tips for living abroad is to help people who are thinking of moving to Greece and not just recycle our personal experiences, then i need to say a few things.
The most important thing for someone thinking of living in Greece in the near future is “which country is he/she living in currently”? Is he living in Taiwan of another country? If one is currently living in a Scandinavian country or Germany (even England), then he or she will have difficulties adjusting to Greece. Life in Greece is not as organized as in the beforementioned countries and due to the characteristics of most Meditteranean people, life is a bit (or very) chaotic, with stressed and low-patience people. There are many strikes and often Greek people give the impression that they have a low regard to laws. That is basically true and the reason for that is not something to concern us here. Excess paper work is something one needs to be prepared for when he/she needs to use the services of some public organization in Greece. Even issuing a simple certificate can take excess time so plan long time before and do not do thing at the last minute.
In my opinion, the legacies of parties like PASOK are to blame for the low quality of our public services and the mentality of people working there.
About proximity to the parents of your partner, this is universall and actually a worst problem here in Taiwan where the parents are much more “demanding” and especially if you are a boy, it is your no1 obligation to put their needs first in your daily routine.
Also no other families spoil the boys more than the Chinese ones, where the boy actually is unaccountable for his daily behavior.
But the question is: is someone who is currently living in Taiwan and especially in Taipei, going to be surprised by what he/she is going to see in Greece? In my opinion again, not at all. Life in Taiwan is in many ways similar to life in Athens, i.e. chaotic, polluted and with many problems. I can make a long list of unpleasant things one meets here in Taipei that probably makes Athens look way prettier. But this is not the point.
What really matters is the following: if you have to move country make sure you have a stable and honest relationship with your partner. Make sure your partner understands that you are making a sacrifice for your relationship which matters most to you than eating stinky toffu and visiting 7-11 shops late at night.
When you arrive to Greece, try to make your home as comfortable as possible and learn your near surroundings without feeling shy. In Greece there are many people who will care about you and will offer their help and support.
The most important one, tell your partner what makes you happy or sad and ask often for his/her help unill you are well acclimatized in Greece. Since language is a problem, do not expect to find a job easily in Athens, but is this a surprise? Even in one of the most open societies like the English one, if you are Taiwanese you need a work permit and most companies are not willing to give you one. Language is again a universall problem so just be patient and try to get some basic communication skills, if you can, before moving to Greece. When we move coutries we are all dependent to the native ones, so a good relationship with your partner is what matters most at such cases.
Nothing in life is easy but the right attitude always helps!
Christos Michalopoulos

discover.greece said...

I agree that strong relationship and willingness to sacrifice are keys to adjusting comfortably to a new environment.
Some older generation non-bloggers started to complain to me about the young bloggers that they only talk about the good side of Greece, but don’t mention about the difficult and negative side of Greece, so I ask the experienced older generation immigrants to write and I will be willing to publish their opinions, in the meantime while waiting for these writings to come, I briefly gave a 10 points “warning” to potential immigrants what they may encounter in the worse scenario, which are a collection of what I or my friends had experienced (in other words, a few things had happened only to some friends here but not to me.) Since I know you are not a spoiled child at all, you may resent about the point that many Greek men are spoiled (you may be the minority though, we should take a survey among Taiwanese Greeks), but I believe not only men but also women are spoiled here, many of the younger generation don’t cook even after they are married and have their own families, they rely on their mothers to cook to give them daily meals, and fathers to babysit and take kids to the parks, etc. while themselves are out for a leisure walk, or coffee gossip. A very dependent behavior not usually seen in other culture. And I feel bad for the old generation Greeks.

Allow me to apply some humor, I am glad that you found “Chinese” (and not “Taiwanese”) spoiled their children. And make sure you don’t call Americans, Canadians, and Australians “British”, and be surprised how they react back to you.

Overall, a total appreciation of your comment.

Anonymous said...

Reading your reply, i can now see a bit better the perspectives under which you wrote your article since i had the feeling you overstated the negative aspects of living in Greece. Believe me, i have a very clear picture that Greece is the "last" country in Europe in may aspects. I am disappointed by so many things i see every time i visit Greece, that i would be dishonest to come out and defend Greece. My only point is that Taiwanese and Greeks have in many ways similar lifestyles and it is much easier for someone to adopt to one of those two countries that to a Scandinavian one.
And of course i could never call the Taiwanese as Chinese, not under these sensitive conditions and especially after feeling strongly that Taiwan is an independent country, contrary to the actions of her government.
And of course you are right, not all come inder the name "British".
I hope more people will send their comments on their lives in Greece.
Thanks for giving me the space to write these comments.
Christos Michalopoulos

JOHN & REGINA said...

I agree all your points because I'm living here and I'm from Taiwan. However, the difference is that my husband is from UK. Anyway, the things which you pointed out are what I want to shout out for a long time. If you have ever told Taiwanese that you are in Greece, you may notice that they are so jealous of your life. What I want to say is that life is difficult, no matter where you live becasue you will have to deal with different problems. Nothing is prefect.

Anonymous said...

For what you said, I couldn't agree more. And I do think the FOOD is a big issue, so do make sure you enjoy and can stand for Greek food for whole life first before moving. Unless you can find a very good chinese shop with all things you want i.e dumpling skin, fresh tufou, fish cake, sticky rice.....too many thing Greece/Cyprus doesn't have.
Best climate and sweetest grapes is not enough to keep you going on...

Emily01005h from Cyrus

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