Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Value of a university degree in Greece

University degree Greece

Do you need a university degree in Greece?

Based on work experience, job hunting and the people who agreed to speak about their work situation — regardless of nationality, intelligence and financial status — a university degree has little or no impact on making a job candidate more competitive, more viable or more powerful when negotiating a salary in Greece. And the hard stats support that.

Before and after I arrived, I was told time and again that it’s all about connections, and non-locals will have a difficult time breaking into established circles and networks, as most friendships extend to childhood and families and their acquaintances are close knit.

You may be optimistically convinced you can break these barriers, wedge your way in or simply take advantage of an opportunity by proving yourself at the right time and place. But to be honest, it isn’t that easy — a 10-year friendship is nothing in comparison to 30 years, and a single event can end everything whether or not you did anything wrong.

In a 2012 WSJ article called Crony Capitalism, it says: “In Italy and Greece, the most talented don’t get ahead.” That’s always been true. It is not a phenomenon brought on by the crisis.

Men befriend women with promises of helping because they “know someone,” but it often turns out they know no one and their intentions are not honorable. Working freelance jobs can also be risky, as many people report problems in getting paid, and employers dare them to sue, which can take several years, with no promise of ever recovering money despite a judgment in your favor.

Having a degree has been a detriment to many attempting to secure a job in Greece, while playing down qualifications and skills is often an advantage.

Extensive experience and a university degree often garners one or more of these reactions:

1. Classified as overqualified

2. Classified as expensive, even before discussing salary or if you’re hired.

3. Offered a job based on years of experience and skills, but employers don’t want to pay more than 800-900 euros with IKA (social insurance). Not a horrible salary by Greek standards, but the basic living expenses of a person supporting themselves without help of a spouse or parent or outright ownership of an existing property is usually far more, especially if they have children.

4. Offered a salary of 1000 euros or more, but won’t provide IKA (social insurance). Also not bad by Greek standards but non-EU citizens must have continuous insurance to keep a Greek residence/work permit, so it means paying 250+ euros/month out-of-pocket for private insurance.

5. Hours after an application deadline closes, a candidate is selected for the position. Meaning, they never intended to consider candidates based on merit — the job listing was a formality, and a candidate was predetermined to fill it.

6. An employer or manager may feel threatened the first few months and ask educated, female or non-Greek employees to perform menial tasks that have nothing to do with the job description as a way to humiliate them, i.e., Make coffee, serve lunch to co-workers, do the boss’ undesirable personal errands, lie to clients or dump garbage.

7. An employer sometimes acts insulted when employees quit, calling them ungrateful and that they owe him for hiring them as if it was a favor.

There are cases when a job candidate successfully beats out several others to fill a vacancy and negotiates a reasonable salary, only to work alongside less productive people with no experience, no skills and no university degree, earning a higher salary. To add insult to injury, co-workers end up hating anyone who “works too fast and makes them look bad.”

One could say this only applies to certain people or foreigners, but Greek workers en masse report the same experience. The majority of longtime friends aged 25-35 are Greek citizens — educated both abroad and in Greece — have rarely been offered IKA or a salary higher than 800 euros with IKA. These are smart, hard-working people who are eager to make a difference and enthusiastic about being fully independent adults.

The few I know with high salaries own their own business, are performing favors or got their job through a relative, spouse or friend of the family. It is rare to find someone who secured a well-paid job on meritocracy alone.

One could argue it’s about supply and demand. That’s true if you’re talking about too many intelligent people and too few positions in every field. Bottom line: Greece is a small country without a diversified job market, and does not have a climate based on technology, innovation, capitalism or investment, so the demand is for unskilled labor.

Some professionals without connections choose to work in cafes instead of their field of study and experience because it pays a lot more money. Some with connections don’t have a CV or a clue about how to draw one up because they’ve gotten all their jobs through someone they know and have never been on a job interview, which may explain why many find it scary to go abroad and find work outside the borders of Greece. The real world works a lot differently.

Observing the experience of workers in Greece over 15 years, those holding the few, coveted home-grown positions with high salaries in each industry got their jobs through connections or contacts established over several years or generations, are doing personal favors on the side ($exual or otherwise), work significantly more than 40 hours without overtime pay, are usually multilingual and/or are working with a family member. There are few exceptions, and this is true whether the Greek economy is healthy or in crisis. It’s exactly what I was told from the first day.

With the recession changing the hiring/firing landscape, more companies in Greece are dumping experienced professionals and replacing them with cheap labor in order to survive. Job security is at an all-time low, especially for career-oriented, educated workers who are amongst the increasing number of homeless.

So what is the value of a university degree in Greece? Not much.

*Article last updated July 1, 2013

In the News

Greece consistently favors the connected not the talented” — NY Times
More women than men in Greece find themselves in low-paid dead-end jobs” — Athens News
Increasing number of educated Greeks and ex-business owners join ranks of homeless” — Kathimerini (Jan 2011)
One in three university graduates unemployed in 2009” — Ta Nea
Το πτυχίο δεν φέρνει μεροκάματο” — Ta Nea
«Στέλνω παντού βιογραφικά, αλλά μάταια…»: It takes more than a university degree” — Ta Nea
Unemployment rate for women twice that of men” — Eleftherotypia

Related posts

Example of jobs and salaries in Athens, Greece
Common jobs for foreigners in Greece: Myth vs. reality
Who is jobless in Greece?

Photo from holytrinity.info

31 Comments

  graffic wrote @ October 4th, 2007 at 20:44

First I don’t know why I didn’t read this before (I was lurking through your blog months ago). Therefore, Im sorry is a really good description.

I’m new in my job but I can confirm some of your truths:
– The important here is not how much do you know. Is how much years you have been working and if you have any connection.
– Even if people there is very nice (I have to say thank you), there is a general lack of the “how to” in the business.
– There’s also people really smart but, they don’t have time to “improve” their knowledge. The company doesn’t want them to know more.

I can add that they way the people “work” here is very “strange”, always dialiama, tsigara and coffee. In that way they stay 10-14 hours per day in the office. I hardly believe that you can do more on 14 hours than in 8 (working hard).

In Spain we prefer to finish and then have the cigarettes and all kind of drinks you can imagine :) That’s dangerous if you have a 2 hours break in the noon/afternoon because some times I arrived at 3 at home “drunk” xD (break from 2 to 4, and the beers are 1,50 euros).

Now I don’t drink in that way (I love to enjoy one beer and some times even I don’t finish it), but I miss that energy that pushes you to work hard to finish and then go out for with your co-workers :)

Kat Reply:

Graffic – You mentioned two good points, in which I’d like to make additions. First, I find that there are people who are smart and clever but because they are not paid or treated well, there’s no incentive to do well. Plus, I’ve always found that the productive intelligent people get more work, while the lazy ones hate the productive colleagues and continue being lazy — no reprimand or anything, with the same salary raise as everyone else.

Second, I’ve been in jobs where I don’t even have time for lunch or something to drink; I know some people who don’t even have time to go to the bathroom, which I think is inhumane. Aside from that, I’d rather work like a dog for 8 hours and go home. That’s why we have Happy Hour in the USA — cheap drinks, billiards and hanging out with friends. Woo hoo! OK, some of us need to work more than 8 hours, but we’re actually doing something and desperate to go home or catch the party before it ends. :)

  Evangelos wrote @ October 5th, 2007 at 12:43

I strongly agree with the above comments and observations you made…I left Greece 5 years ago to study and work abroad. I sincerely never, never looked back. In just 5 years I managed to get a good degree and a job in one of the most prestigious media companies worldwide without having to use any connections (which I don’t have anyhow), and I earn a decent living.

It was a matter of fair play and an inspiring, active employment environment, which is far from the passivity and nepotism of the Greek environment. I’d love to return to Greece only for personal, sentimental reasons but to do what? The Greek companies that I’d be interested in working for don’t even have a job search page in their websites…that says everything, doesn’t it?

I feel awful to have come to such conclusions for my beloved Greece but the employment facts about Greece are more than obvious and really sad…

I hope that at least the younger Greeks might make a difference in the future but again I seriously doubt it. It seems that in Greece a certain working attitude is inherited like a bad gene, a circle that is difficult to escape…

Kat Reply:

Evangelos – Hello and welcome! I think you’ve been reading this site for awhile, but I’m glad you made a comment today so I could finally “meet you.” Thank you. I know who you work for, and you should be proud that you had the courage to start a life somewhere else, study and work hard to get where you are.

My sentimentality got the best of me many years ago, and it was difficult for me to see that because my time here has been interrupted by periods abroad, which is really the only reason I’ve put up with what I have for so long. In fact, I was ready to leave Sept 2006 and am now just waiting for my fiance so we can join you outside the borders. In the meantime, I create my own happiness, which I realize may give the illusion I love it here when I truthfully only tolerate it with much impatience to get on with my life in another country.

I’m sincerely happy you found something you like and that your life is better. You deserve a lot of credit. :)

  Makis wrote @ October 10th, 2007 at 01:10

Hi. It’s the first time I read your blog and I find it very interesting. There is so much truth to all you people say. It must be really hard to cope with all this. I can’t believe that you actually have stayed in Greece for 10 years after all these difficulties. I would have returned to US with not a second thought. You must really like it here.

Kat Reply:

Makis – Hello and welcome, and thank you for leaving a comment! I started the site, so people could voice the “other side” because too often it’s drowned out by people with more money, more power and louder voices of the privileged, nationalistic majority. “Love” is a strong word that I once used long ago when I was blind and sentimental. The circumstances of why I’m still here are complicated, but I’ve wanted to leave since Sept 2006 and have only been here this long because I’ve had breaks away from Greece in other countries. If it were not for these breaks, I suspect I would have left many many years ago and never looked back. I don’t hate Greece, I still care about what happens to the country (such a shame), I just don’t love it anymore…and some loves are meant to be from a distance.

  The Scorpion wrote @ October 10th, 2007 at 08:13

Makis, Yep we love it here, probably even more than Greeks.

Remember, Greeks have to live here. We CHOSE to live here.

Kat Reply:

The S – There are definitely pluses and minuses to every place, and everyone has a reason for being where they are.

  gia wrote @ October 10th, 2007 at 15:24

I love this blog!!!!! It’s like someone took the time to write down all my worst experiences in Greece and reading them makes me recall each one. Here’s a good one for you all. Ive been working as — from the time of my MA from an Ivy league school in the States for last decade. After recognizing my degrees as equal and shelling out the euros for this honor, I am told that I can only have antoistixia for my BA, which is in a field completely unrelated to my career for the last decade. They want to force me into a route I’ve consciously rejected in the past. Is this democracy? As an educator, one of the first things you learn is never ever to use the word ‘stupid’ in front of students (towards them)…well the system in Greece is STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!!! And what is worse is that finding information — even speaking Greek, having connections and so forth — is next to impossible. And then they wonder why they are ranked so low and their education system is awful. They make it impossible to recruit worthy candidates. And while I earned more than 5 times what I make here (which now is 0) in the States, yeah it’s my choice to come. I really think that the Greek wages match the employee output or attitude on the majority. VERY low for very low productivity and very awful attitudes, esp if you are not dressed to the hilt when you confront –I mean speak to someone during work hours.

Kat Reply:

Gia – Hi there! :) Thank you and I’m glad you added your comment. I know very little about the teaching world and how credentials transfer over, so it gave me better insight to hear it from someone who experienced it first hand from beginning to end. It’s truly unfortunate that people like you have so much to offer and give, that you came here to share your knowledge…but can’t. I have no doubt you’d make a big difference here.

With respect to your ”worst stories” reference, unfortunately these are merely everyday stories from my life, which I’ve toned down by skipping the emotion and adding humor. The “worst stories” will never be revealed on this site. I hope you’ll comment again, if the mood strikes you.

  Maria wrote @ October 12th, 2007 at 08:33

Wow i didnt know how bad things were. I’ve only been here for a 1 year and a few months. I was actally thinking of signing up with an online school, but what is the point my degree would be useless, and Doatap would never recgonise it within the next uhhhh 50 years. Yeah it is definately all about who you know in Greece. A friend of mine just finished the police academy in Athens and already became “monimos” because his parents had a lot of connections. I think it’s really messed up that people overlook who is qualified and just take someone because of their connections, which is why you have idiots in government positions and nothing works right. This will never change.

Offcourse we all bitch and complain but if we ended up in a government position, we would be happy.

As weird as it sounds I prefer the way things work here in Greece. I was never into paying bills online, or having the advantages I had in the US. It’s either that or it’s too early for me to be sick of how things works here.

I dont miss the lifestyle in the USA , infact I found it stressful, but maybe that was because I had my mind on coming to Greece all the time, that I never enjoyed myself.
I thought things would be easier in Greece. Like someone else said we choose to live here, we aren’t forced to live here, and that makes you feel a little better, than those who haver never left the village. Luckilly, I dont have to pay rent, and the jobs I have had I was able to get by, somehow. BUT, I do not have olive trees,and no parents supporting me .(they are in the US). It seems like all the people I meet are telling me to get up and leave. I am an easy person to please, I’d be happy with my 700-800euro and IKA if I landed a full time job position in teaching English. I only live 2km from the main city.

I must agree though everyone comes here for their own reasons ,whatever they may be, trully no one comes here to make money. I only know one person who moved back from the USA and is making 2,000 to 3,000euro a month. With that kind of money, you live like a KING in Greece. I also know someone else who finished Harvard Medical School and it took him 6-7 years to open his own clinic..

Honestly, I have no intentions of becoming rich here . I dont even have a college degree, I was working for 20K a year in the US, and living in a 4×4 studio apartment. It was a personal reason why I left. I am willing to give it another try here before or if I head back.

But honestly who makes money here in Greece? Cab drivers? People in trades?Hotels?

  Vassili wrote @ October 12th, 2007 at 11:05

As a guy i think i am protected from most of your worst stories… while one guy did hold my hand during a job interview I guess my most frustrating story for not getting the job was that i did not have an English Proficiency certificate. Of course having been born, raised, educated till University level (in communications) inAustralia i didnt see the point. Anger was my only feeling

Kat Reply:

Vassili – I never thought of the gender issue because some men have troubles of their own. It could be verbal abuse, being hit on or requested to do $exual favors by women or other men, getting paid a lower salary because of some strange jealousy or racial bias, etc.

  kiki wrote @ January 12th, 2008 at 23:35

WOOOOW I AGREE WITH YOU ALL!!!!!!

I know THINGS in Greece stink and it is one thing to visit the country for vacation and another to live. So for those who think it’s going to be all fun and games, you are in for a big SHOCK. Simple tasks in Greece can take days, weeks, months, years, to accomplish. it’s all about who you KNOW and if you have MONEY…it’s no wonder all those young woman want to find rich men…the public hospitals are dirty, the doctors are clueless, so many things are WRONG with GREECE … i was born in boston but raised in greece, came here when i was 12, and visited greece every summer and finally decided to move back at 22 on my own, after 2 years of staying there and being treated as an “american” i decided to move back to boston in Dec of 2007.. In just 1 week I was able to find a job!! I have it all here in boston, my job, free gym, my car, my family&friends, my vacation time, my house, but i am not happy!! all i think about is GREECE, and when I was in Greece, I never thought about the states.. It’s just that I was unemployed for the past 4 months so I was stuck at home, and I just wanted to get away and relax for a while…

Here in boston, I am making 40K a year and in Greece my job is not in demand… i was only making 600euro working at Sprider… but i am happier there. life is too stressful in america and i can’t deal with it. i have been here for 2 months in boston, and i am already shopping clothes to bring back with me to greece and move back there because i feel as if that’s where i belong….. like i read on your website home is the place where you feel comfortable, and i guess i feel more comfortable in Greece. I know America has so much more to offer, jobs, schools, education, hospitals, everything!!! And to some it seems like I am making the stupidest mistake of my life returning back, when I have so much going for me here in Boston….BUT, i feel like i belong in Greece…Everytime i leave greece I cry, and i cried for days 2, i cried on the plane >>2 months ago… When I got on the plane to come back to Boston and I landed in Boston, I already wanted to get back on the next plane to come back to GREECE. So I know the USA is not for me..

Here in America I am miserable. I know things will suck in Greece, and I wont be able to enjoy things that I enjoy here in Boston, but I am happier there…it’s about time I stop complaining about the bad things Greece has to offer, and focus on the good qualities, the reasons that make me stay in Greece.. life’s too short not to be happy!!

Kat Reply:

K – Well, the first thing that comes to mind is you’re still under the ether. You’re in your early 20s and the honeymoon with Greece hasn’t worn off. A lot people (both Greek and non-Greek) who commented have been here longer (or were here and are glad they’re not anymore) and have purposeful visions/goals to fulfill. You’ll see what I mean when you get older and your priorities shift…and Greece will still be the same. Focusing on the positive does help, but it will not change reality.

When people say things like, “oh the USA is so stressful,” I honestly don’t know what they’re talking about. I’ve worked two full-time jobs (to pay for my degree) when going to university, living on my own and sleeping only 4 hours a day, and I felt alive and full of energy.

On this site, you will see that I’ve repeated certain phrases, such as “life is short” and “we create our own happiness” and “you can’t change other people, you can only change yourself” and “I’d rather die while I was out living my life, than hiding from it.” I’m walking my talk. Cheers and keep walking… ;)

  Iznogoud wrote @ January 17th, 2008 at 06:23

I am a Greek living in the USA. I left Greece in 1993 for university studies and I never returned for anything other than vacation. However, I totally understand the struggle and I agree with all the points that you have made. It is indeed a strange place, primarily because of the lack of professionalism both from the employee and the employer. You are correct that skills will only get you so far and this is a huge problem for everyone there. I am sad that things work the way they do. I cannot fully explain why people choose to continue to live and work under a socio-economic system, as tainted as the one in Greece. I am sure you can find much worse, but it is pretty bad as it is.

Finally, I offer this one piece of analysis and take it with a grain of salt. Innovation will always defeat the status quo and will get you ahead. Of course this is easier said than done… Observe that status quo is simply a collective response to the current conditions of the environment. Take the conditions away, the response from the populus will change. What you can do as an individual is come up with something that will give you a certain advantage over everyone else and you will do well anywhere… This is effectively changing the conditions of the environment. You will never get ahead of you play with someone else’s rules, and the unwritten rules of how the system works in Greece are terrible and tainted.

I commend you for maintaining perspective in spite of 10 years of this crap.

Kat Reply:

I – A warm welcome and hello! I woke up this morning and recalled something you said about innovation, then realized I never answered you. So sorry! Your analysis is correct, and I think as a Greek or other EU citizen, it’s much easier to carry that out. As a non-EU citizen here alone, my primary and only goal was to survive — that meant any job at all to support myself, never mind the industry, pay or whether it came with a permit. When I was self-employed and had the chance to offer something different, clients were certainly eager to exploit, I mean hire, me but collecting payment was difficult or impossible. Since legalities were squared a few years ago, I’ve been able to find gainful part-time work with non-Greek employers abroad who pay me consistently, and this keeps me sane and my career going forward. My fiance has also made life more tolerable as he now deals with most things having to do with infrastructure, and we have a number of connections between us. I’m still treated poorly (people refer to me as “that,” as if I’m a thing and not a person), but my pain and exposure are minimized for the first time in 10 years.

Humor, patience and a number of significant life changing events have helped me maintain perspective.

Please comment again if the mood strikes you, even if you disagree with me. The name you entered is hilarious. :)

  Reality Bites wrote @ January 17th, 2008 at 14:11

To Kiki –

– In my 20s, Greece was the most wonderful place full of hot, smokin, $exy women everywhere who were interested in talking to me, (the cute American) and although cigarette smoking was everywhere, I ignored it because hey, the Greek women were $exy etc…I had a Greek landlord who paid all the bills for me (after I gave her the money) at DEH, OTE etc. I never shopped at a supermarket and ate out every night. Life was great, and did I mention the Greek women were hot? I had little or no dealings with Greek bureaucracy and had no idea what the word “infrastructure” meant.

– In my 30s, after getting married to one of those $exy Greek women, the rest of the hot, $exy Greek women now seemed less important to me, and I noticed a slow drop-off of those who wished to talk to this (still-cute American guy). Further, things like: Supermarket, waiting in line at DEH, OTE, etc were starting to get on my nerves because I’d only heard about people experiencing these things before.

– Now, in my 40s, as a middle aged, overweight, bald, average guy who looks like he could be (Albanian, Romanian etc), most of the hot, $exy Greek women wouldn’t talk to me if I was lit on fire, and usually cross the street when they see me coming.

A little background: In the 1970-80s, being a foreigner in Greece meant intrigue and curiosity and “Who are you”. But now, in the 2000s, being a foreigner is no big deal as Greece’s population is loaded to the gills with foreigners. I rarely get asked where I’m from as I once did. It’s just assumed I’m a refugee I suppose. When my wife asks why I don’t take naps anymore, I tell her that when I first wake up in the morning, I get that SHOCK of who I am, and I can only handle that once per day.

My suggestion: Enjoy Greece while you are young, because once you realize what an “infrastructure” is, and have to actually deal with it, moving back to the States, Canada, etc, may be too late. Greece is a place for the beautiful and young.

Kat Reply:

RB – I can confirm much of what you say. Ten years ago when I was illegal, I dealt very little with the public sector. Later when I was earning an American salary and came here at will, I only took taxis (a friend’s), shopped retail as a “rich American” and was generally treated well. As my life became more Greek and progressively more exposed to infrastructure and mired in bureaucracy, my infatuation with Greece diminished, though I can see how Greek and other EU citizens never experience this. No one cared about my university degree, qualifications, skills or experience. All that mattered was if I wanted to work long hours for almost no money and no permit. Only in my 30s, I am considered old and past my prime (in fact ads say “under 30″ or “under 35″), only good for getting married and having kids — people actually say that to my face. Greece can be for the mature if there’s a niche to be filled or exploited, and non-EU citizenship isn’t an issue.

  Danai wrote @ February 12th, 2008 at 06:27

Hi from Australia.

WOW!!! After reading all that i know exactly why i left greece and why i dont want to return. I have lived overseas my entire life and spent 2 years trying to get established in Greece but that didnt get me anywhere. Degrees mean zero there and the less you know the more successful you are it seems. Of course everyone has connections so you get a job from a cousin who spoke to a friend who spoke to her uncle to get you the position. How STUPID!!!!! in a span of 2 years i had between 6-7 different jobs and when i returned and was interviewed and had to explain why i changed jobs so often people were horrified at the response! 600- 800 Euros is not adequate its what i call m@#%$%^ies. Scuse the french but that is the reality and sorry to say this cause i am Greek, but if you don’t need to live in Greece, get out ASAP!!!

Kat Reply:

I wish I could disagree with something you said, but everything you said is true. My friend says that expats and Greeks who came back to Greece and love it here are the ones who were second-rate citizens where they just came from. In 99% of cases, I can say that’s true; the other 1% are stuck here for some reason (family obligations they can’t break) or rich, retired and above it all. I’m glad you got out.

  kiki wrote @ February 22nd, 2008 at 23:20

Kat, I dont know anyone that works 2-3 jobs in Greece to make ends meet like they do in the states. And somehow they all manage, to go on vacations, buy expensive clothing, cellphones,etc.etc…I am sure by now you know that Greeks love to complain..Most people I know work 1 full time job and that is enough for them as it is..ONLY THE RICH live a really comfortable life in Greece, but that goes for all the 3rd world countries. Today, for an American to live a comfortable life you need an income of 100K or more a year…and I dont know a single person who makes that. About waiting at long lines in the banks, to pay bills, to do taxes, to do various tasks which in the US simply take minutes…i was living alone, so i had to do all of that for almost 2 years…I had enough experience in that….There is no perfect place in this world… The quality of life (depends on each persons definition) which for you and many others is an education, jobs, security, hospitals, etc …well by that definition greece can not even begin to compare to america. but everyones definition of quality of life is different and people live for different reasons, some live to educate themselves, some live to become rich, and some just to live be happy with whatever they have…and i choose to be happy. i know i wont become rich in greece, i know i wont have opportunities for pretty much anything, but at least i will be happy..

TO: Reality Bites..

I appreciate your response, but, I am not a party-animal. I was 21 y/o , with $700 (400euro) in my pocket & tried to follow my dream..(living in greece). In the 2 years i was there, I drank frappe @ a cafeteria 2 times( on my name day and my birthday) I ate out about 5 times. I went to the club 1 time.(i hated it because it was filled of losers who just sat there texting each other, and made fun of what the person across of them wears) i worked as an english teacher (did not get paid for) I worked full time over 60 hours a week , with no day off(even though the agreement we signed said I was supposed to have 1 day off ever week) I got 660 euro for a whole months pay, and most of it went to OTE,DEH, taxi&bus, gas money for scooter, basilopoulos, etc, and at the end, I was lucky if i was left with 50 euro to buy something for myself..I walked 2km a day to go work, and 2km at night back to my house.. after my bicycle , and my scooter both got stolen.. I was called “xazoamerikanaki” dumb american….My idea of fun was not wasting hours in cafeterias, drinking frappe….I joined the rescue team, i joined the hiking team, and any chance i got i took my scooter and traveled…i was lucky to meet some friends, who shared the same hobbies as I did.. So as you can see I didnt have it easy.. I didnt move to Greece because I thought I would be on a vacation, or because of the crazy nightlife it has to offer….Thats not me… My life makes sense there, and I have the most beautiful memories there.. and honestly, i believe that life is too short to be worrying like we do in the states..always worrying and worrying about tomorrow, never living for the moment, like the Greeks in Greece do… I would still be in Greece working like a slave for 660euro but I refused to sleep with my boss, so I quit that job because he was making my life miserable…and after trying to find a job for the next 3 months I realized that I couldn’t . I was running low on cash… So i used what little money i had saved up for my plane ticket.. What pisses me off, is that I tried so hard to make my dream come true, and I feel like I failed….Not a minute goes by that I dont think about my time in Greece…oh well I guess that’s life…It never works out the way you want it to..

Kat Reply:

Now I know who you are. You’re the Greek-American staying with relatives here for no rent, who kept asking me for advice and NOT following it, after I took hours to research and write out personalized responses. You’re the one who kept telling me how miserable, sad and lonely you were, how crappy life was for you in GR, everyone was mean to you (except yr boss), and you didn’t know what to do. Sound familiar? And now you’re saying you were happy? (*Sigh*) You’re also the one who said you didn’t have any money (as you’re saying here), but bought a new scooter (which you mention above). Btw, you previously said you were 22 when you moved to GR, which means you were only here 1 year, and the “I only had 50 euros a month” calculation that bought both a scooter and plane ticket don’t add up.

Comparing the remote village you were living in to Boston, MA is apples and oranges. I know tons of people here who have 2 jobs; there are even a few commentators on this site who admit that. I know no one in the USA who works two jobs, and I know plenty who earn upwards of 100,000 (btw, they all have degrees), but that may be because I’m 15 years ahead of you. Many (not all) people here are financially comfortable because of money/property from their parents, tax evasion (40%), corruption and profiteering.

In my last comment to you, I encourage you to “keep walking” (translation: keep going after your dream and be happy), so I’m not sure why you’re addressing me at all or telling me about happiness, dreams and quality of life. All you’re doing is repeating things you’ve learned from this site. Please don’t tell me you had this knowledge previously because you were not this enlightened when you wrote me last year. And yes, university degrees are important to most people making a comment here because that’s what this post IS about.

Lastly, what you’re saying to me and RB about what “you went through” isn’t different or worse than what many go through; you’re not even a sketo non-EU citizen with additional challenges like we are. He never said you were a party animal or whatever you’re being defensive about. All he said was enjoy Greece while you’re young because infrastructure gets much more difficult to deal with when you’re 20 years older, which is the same thing I said about how you’ll see what I mean when your priorities shift in 10-15 years from now. Translation: If you think GR reality is challenging now, just wait 20 years from now when you’re married, have 2 kids and a career to think about.

Kali tuxi!

P.S. Calling Greece a “3rd world country” will not win you many friends in Greece or minimize the name-calling you mentioned. Just a tip.

  FMS wrote @ February 23rd, 2008 at 01:03

Well, avoiding any individual issues, I can assure you that it is very common for Greeks to have 2 or even 3 jobs, to make ends meet. Sometimes only one of them is legal: in that way, they maximise income while appearing to be completely above board. The other way that people survive is with unearned income from rents: almost every Greek family I know has at least one or two small apartments that they let. A few have large polykatoikia, but don’t think of themselves as professional landlords! [To be fair, they don’t behave as professional landlords, either!].

Anyone who can survive on a typical Greek salary, and be happy with it, has my respect. I feel envious of them because they have achieved something that almost nobody else does. I have to say, though, that with rental prices, flat selling prices, food, petrol and utility prices etc. as they are [and rising], I cannot actually understand how it is possible to live properly on say 1200 euros a month, especially those with children.

lol@”third world” label: even I avoid saying that!

  KT wrote @ February 23rd, 2008 at 03:17

Well I posted before and you know who I am…BUT…I finally came to my senses. I was blinded by the love I had for Greece and I could not see reality. I thought I could survive there, but I can’t on the basiko, no one can..The truth is that a part of me will always love Greece, I grew up there and I had the best memories of my life. Greece is very expensive, and I honestly dont know how people survive there. But there are just too many things I could not get used to, I guess I am more American that I thought, and I am damn proud. The statistics for obesity, abortions, deaths, births, unemployment are pretty sad. For the time being Ellada will be a summer vacation destination to me…Take care Kat

  yiannos wrote @ February 23rd, 2008 at 10:22

as usual, Kat and FMS both provided a satisfying bookend to one of “these” types of discussions.

it’s not my place to say, but i personally feel this topic has run its course, at least for the meantime anyway.

Kat Reply:

I agree, and thank you.

  Evangelia wrote @ March 9th, 2008 at 05:24

I am currently going to school right now have it set in my mind that after I get my degree I am going to move to Greece because I love it there and love my family over there. I was expecting to hear good things about finding a job there if you had a degree. I figured they would be thrilled to have someone from America wanting to work for them!

It sounds like its tough and very unethical!! SO for advice DON’T try to find a job in Greece? ??

P.S. Greece is still a wonderful country and I am very proud to be Greek!

Kat Reply:

E – People come here for different reasons and have different experiences, and I’ve said this many times on this site. Who said to not find a job in Greece? Not me. I never said that because most of us need to work. All I do is tell you how it is here and offer solutions on where to look and what to do, so you can better prepare yourself and aren’t surprised by the cronyism and discrimination across nationalities, age and gender.

Why would Greek employers be thrilled to have an American working for them if they’ve never worked in Greece before — or never worked anywhere and have no experience, if you’re just out of school — and have no knowledge of the local Greek business environment, the precise market they’re trying to capture? A degree means nothing here; and a foreign degree will take at least a year for DOATAP to recognize. Ask anyone with a master’s working at Goody’s.

Greece may be a great country (primarily for Greeks), but Greek pride won’t solve job insecurity, low wages and deep-rooted infrastructure and economic problems. In any case, feel free to keep believing what you like, ignoring the testimony of everyone on this site and good luck!

  maria v wrote @ April 14th, 2008 at 23:40

hi kat, i’ve just been reading – how right you are about how little education counts in the workplace – so why are we hankering for more and more qualifications and striving to educate our children highly, if education doesn’t actually count? that could be the subject of your next post…

Kat Reply:

M – Hi Maria! I appreciate the suggestion, but there’s no way I can post about that because reasons are highly subjective. Some just want the best for their children, no matter what; others are hoping their children will go abroad and succeed there, but their children won’t leave; some believe GR’s job climate will improve. But on the whole, I don’t think many know why they do it. You wouldn’t believe how many people I know with Master’s degrees from the UK who choose to be English teachers. Thank you for taking the time to give me a read. :)

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