Lately I’ve been thinking about my journey for almost the past two years and how it feels to live abroad for such a long time. For those of you who don’t know before I moved to Slovenia I lived in Sweden for a year where I did my master’s degree; then I moved back to Greece for a month which pretty much involved unpacking and then packing again in order to come here. So I thought about it and I realized how much I have experienced in just less than two years. I have not only been able to finish my academic path and start my working life, but I have been able to meet so many people and get acquainted with so many cultures which has been a great lesson for me and has molded my life and my understanding of people to a new level.
While I’m writing this article I am really overcome with emotions because all in all it has been a great experience for me but it has also been a very challenging ordeal. And I think that’s what makes it even more worth it. For example, I have become an expert in packing and also shopping at the supermarket in a way that I don’t have food that goes bad and I also don’t have to go to the super market every second day, both of which are very tricky.
But despite all these small details the most important think of living abroad is the people you meet, and that’s why I decided to write about it because it suddenly occurred to me how important this has been for me. I have been immersed to this international society and I have people whom I consider my family all over the world now, without even having to leave Europe. I have seen friendship, brotherhood or sisterhood and I have seen love as well and it has been great.
Opportunities like studying abroad or Erasmus+ programs are very different to immigration because they have been designed in a way that does not get you immersed to the local society but rather to a small multi-cultural society of people that you rather work or study with. Since I have moved abroad I have had to share living space with two swedes, one German, one Bosnian, one Indonesian, a Polish and a person from Thailand. At the same time I had to cooperate with people from all over Europe and Asia or Africa. Can you imagine how educative such an experience is?
For those of you who have not been through such an experience, you must understand that the problem in such scenarios is not only the language difference but also rules of conduct. Each country or even each person has their own set of rules of what is normal, what is expected from certain people, what kind of behavior is considered acceptable or rude and so on. Discovering these fine lines is not something that comes easy and I have in various scenarios found myself unable to cope. And even though I consider myself an open minded person I have still found myself in the bondages of stereotypes and misconceptions.
All in all, what I have been trying to describe here is an experience that I value more than anything lately. It all started as a whim to see a bit of the world and now I don’t think I could go back to Greece, at least without the prospect of working in an environment where I could meet new people quite often. Experiences such as these change you, people change you or you change yourself because of experiences and people. I’m not quite sure which is which.