You decided to move to Greece, and stick to your decision. Congratulations! A bold move, you’re more tough and brave than a lot of people, since moving to a new apartment can be stressful and tough, not to mention moving to another country.
Everything is like a dream for the first few weeks. You’re adapting to a new environment, learning language, getting to know people (with help from your domestic friends), signed up for a some class maybe.
The adaptation phase last for long time, and to call yourself a real citizen – it takes some time.
Your first and most important steps are done.
Now it’s the time to start with a regular life.
Work and language
If you found a job, or had it even before coming over, well done. That’s the right thing to do, and have. The early start period is critical for your financies, and it’s vital that you find employment.
One good advice to follow is to have a LinkedIn profile, (that’s a good thing to have for any professional) and look into it for some working opportunities. Here is a small help to start with. Jobs are systematized in sections and where ever your skills fit in, you can try to get in touch, and send your resume.
Forums are also good resources to get to know the environment, and what jobs are offered around. Be proactive, and find every opportunity you can get. Some of it might be the one.
The priorities must be solved, and when you cover that, a lot of burden will come off your back. To do it, give yourself a task, and stick to it. Your job right now is to find a job. So you dedicate several hours (from 9 to 5) to this task. With perserverance, and a positive aditude, everything can be done.
Language barier is important as well. We mentioned some resurices in „Just landed“ article, and here is some more, for the nice start level of conversation. Here is another good site for learning Greek.
If you prefer learning offline, with a tutor, you can consider finding some in yellow pages in your settlement place. Here are some useful links to guide you where you can book your course: OMILO, Apple Languages.
Additional value you’ll get from learning Greek on some of the courses is that you can easily meet some new friends. People you meet at courses will be at the same level of knowledge with you, so you can maybe find a learning partner, or a learning group. This will accelerate the learning process and give you friends to hang out and socialize. This is a good thing to be considered while settling in.
Culture and diversity
Greeks are proud of their culture heritage, more than any other people in Europe. Lots of important and history defining moments and events happened here, with many worldwide famous names being born and with Greek nationality. This is a good thing to know and remember when you’re a recent settler.
As you probably notice in life and interaction with Greeks, they are globally warm, hospitable and direct. (Most of them can be really loud.) When introducing with someone, shaking hands is common practice, and avoiding it might seem a bit odd to Greeks. Direct eye contact, with good attitude, and smile are good way to “break the ice”.
Namedays are celebrated much in Greece, as majority of people here is named after some Greek saint or an important person in history. Namedays occur almost every week, and they find them more important than birthdays. So don’t be surprised when you hear there is a small dinner and party organizedyou’re your new friend Kostas’s nameday.
Easter is the most important holiday in Greece, among New Year’s Eve. As Greeks are very religious people, during Easter faithful Christians all over Greece follow the Holy Week ritual devoutly, rejoicing Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. There is a long ceremonial period of Easter culminating in Saturday morning, when “Christós Anésti” is proclaimed against a background of loudly pealing bells and the joyful sounds of the bands parading through the streets. Big ceremony and Orthodox Resurrection Service is served on squares. Thousands of candles are lit all throughout the cities, and people parading carry them as well. (This happens on Corfu.)
There are around 1,5 million foreign people in Greece up to this day. You will meet lots of Albanians and Macedonians, as well as Russians and Turks.
Adjust to lifestyle
You heard about Olympic Games?
They were invented in Greece, and today lifestyle is sport oriented, as sport and tourism are one of the main entertainment sections of Greek thinking. So it would be good to start rooting for the some football, or basketball teams. Greeks love sports, and they are successful in many, so after the culture, spots are one of the main country’s “go-to” association. Social life is outdoor preferred, (summers are hot, and staying indoors is not recommended without air-condition) and people here don’t stay in their homes a lot, as the coffee shops and bars are full almost every single night. Greeks are social, and joyful people, with integrity and pride. Family on the first spot. Behavior is less formal, and everybody treat each other like a cousins. Hand gestures are used heavy. To “swear” at someone using their hands, Greeks put out their entire hand, palm open, five fingers extended out, like signaling someone to stop. This is called “mountza”.
Because of the lots of tourists, some Greeks might act a bit restricted, and cold, but this is because of the etiquette to let the stranger make the first move. If you politely start the conversation, you will receive some as well.
Nightlife is very live and stimulating, as it make the cities a great place to live. Architecturally, with expansion of buildings and businesses, common situation is to have narrow streets, with no parking place, and populated by cars. You will notice it probably (Of course, the difference between the city life and rural life is big). Many squares are the focal points for people to hang out, and it’s not rare to see children playing football in numbers. You can participate in long strolls, meet up with friends in numerous cafes, and have a good social life interacting with people and enjoying the Greek food. The food is one of the main influencers in life social interaction. Everybody cooks awesome, and everybody cooks traditional recipes. Get to know Greek food, and enjoy it with friends.
Staying in the Loop
Social life is best way to get informed every day, as you will be in touch with your friends every day and much more often than you’re maybe used to. The social events are always connected with dining or sports. So be prepared for it. Maybe you will start going to football (soccer) games with your friends.
To stay in loop, you can consume English newspapers (Until you’re good enough for Greek ones), and watch some of the television channels. Most popular ones are Mega, ANT1, Alpha, NERIT Sports, Star, Skai, and E channel. You won’t miss anything with them.
Known for the politeness, and well behaving, Greeks will always help you if you ask politely. With this in mind, don’t hesitate to ask somebody for any info you might need. (On Greek, of course)
Shops around Greece usually are open six days a week, with working hours different depending the type of the store and country region. Average working hours are from 9 AM to 9 PM, as the suburban stores are working in shifts the same time, except the break from 2:30 to 5:30. In tourist regions common are mini markets, open all day and night, whole week long. You can find malls in bigger cities, like Metro, Capitol, Athens Mall, etc. For medicines and drugs, there are many apothecary stores, usually spread throughout the towns. The big green cross (usually made like a neon sign, like advertisement) is in front of the street.
Eating like Greek
Greeks are gourmands, and they enjoy food on every occasion. This practice is common in whole country, and cuisine is Mediterranean. Vegetables, herbs and grains are always on the table, alongside seafood. Fish and pork meat are most common, and chicken is the third most common one you’ll find on average Greek dining. Wine and bread are also a must. The time for dinner is from 9pm to 11pm, and in that period you might get real Greek dinners served in numerous restaurants and tavernas. Culinary skills are well promoted and advertised on national televisions, as cooking shows occur every now and then.
Tzatziki is famous dip, used in many dishes, and you must try this special blend of garlic, cucumbers, yogurt, and spices.
Baklava and Bogutasa are most traditional and most common deserts served, and enjoying them is the best with the cup of coffee. For the drinking side, beers and wines are most common, as well as traditional Ouzo.
Weekends and Free Time
As before mentioned, socialization in Greece is major activity during free time. Usual work week lasts from Monday to Friday (some include Saturday as well). Sport events tend to be really popular, and populated much, as you sometimes can’t snag a ticket for the derbies of football or basketball teams. Festivals are also a really big thing in Greece, as cultural, to film, and musical festivals.
Healthcare in Greece is provided by the National Healthcare Service, or ESY. If you’re in a need of urgent medical assistance, you should call 122, as this is the emergency service number. As a foreigner settling in, your health insurance must be provided from private source, as the domestic health system provides health insurance only for its residents. If you happen to be at the hospital by some medical issue, you’ll need to select your doctor, and then continue to visit him only.
Pharmacies in Greece are open Monday and Wednesday from 08:00-14:30, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00-14:30 and 17:30- 20:00. (Times may wary by regions.)
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