Can visiting or permanently living in Greece change your life? Do you feel at home here or have problems with the different way of Greek culture? What are the biggest challenges a foreigner has to deal with when on short or long term visit? KTG asked its readers to submit their own stories. Here is the story by Lisette Amelia Gorton.
I came to Greece in 1992 when I had just turned 16. I arrived on the Island of Corfu one sunny afternoon with my mother , we were taken to our hotel which did not impress us one bit as it looked somewhat like a hospital and we were surrounded by Germans ….. first impression not good ….. so we unpacked and made our way to the tourist resort to see what was on offer. Again … not impressed !!! Thankfully we managed to make lots of friends and this made things bearable for us.
This summer was to be the stage when I would encounter my first romance … I know , I know …. heard this all before??? Greek romance for me , tears and heartache of a naïve, gullible 16 year old!!! At the end of our 10 day holiday we returned to England, I , convinced that I had found the love of my life (never having being involved with a man before… logical isn’t it???) So the days passed for me , slowly and painfully , I could not concentrate at college and decided to give everything up and return to Corfu to find my “true love”, and be together forever , mistake number one!!! …. Unfortunately he did not feel the same way as he had a wife and child at home!!!
Obviously, I felt dreadful , but I remained and found a job and went on to have so much fun . To cut a long story short (as short as is possible) I stayed on the Island , having met my future husband-to-be (whilst having all that fun).
A couple of years went by , during this time I journeyed back and forth until I finally decided to take the plunge and get engaged…. Mistake number two!! I can say the first years with my Greek husband were acceptable , then after marriage things started to get difficult. The culture here was and still is very different to ours and the concept of a woman’s status and equality between the two sexes leaves much to be desired, for that the Greek mothers are to blame as they treat their sons like some sort of higher beings… almost like Gods.
You are expected to work long hours , with your kids in tow and then go home to take care of that too… then there are the dreaded olives ….. depending on how many trees are in the family … I still cannot bear to look at olives! After years of difficulties and being basically treated as a slave I decided to do a very brave thing and ask for a divorce , to leave my husband and take our two children along with me, not to leave the country , just to live a calmer life still on the Island…..this, however proved to be very difficult, having a husband who drank quite heavily and was often violent.
You have to be very strong to get out of a Greek family; it is almost like the mafia. They cannot accept that anyone would leave them , to them it is just not acceptable.
I made the move…. Managed to escape and started from scratch with a lot of help from non-natives. I did exams in the Greek language, got my diploma from the University of Ioaninna and have been teaching Greek to ex pats for the last 5 years. I am also a zumba/aerobics and pilates teacher and yoga teacher.
I feel happy, glad I stayed although things were so tough; I think I can say that the support group of British has been a lifesaver to me. The Island is beautiful, although I feel the locals do not see this and don’t treat the environment with the respect it deserves. Greek Corfiots are also very well known for their slyness, they really are not what they seem and you must always be aware of this.
I have lived here for 26 years, basically grew up here and could not picture myself in any other country, I am not saying that I would never leave Corfu , I would love to live on the mainland where there is more life but my children were born here and moving them would be too upsetting.
Conclusion ……. Many times I regret the day I came here, when things are hard, but things can get hard wherever you may be, I chose this life so I make the best of it. When I feel down I take a look around me and see the beautiful landscape, the sea , the never ending blue sky and think there are not so many places on earth like this.
Lisette Amelia Gorton
If you want to submit your own experience from visiting or permanently living in Greece, send your story at:
Email ref title: “Greece life expats”
Some 500 words would do fine. Shorter or longer make no difference. KTG will only have problems if a text is above 800-1000 words. It i sup to you to decide whether the experience is published with your real name or nickname – just mention this on your e-mail.