Hmm…I am now conflicted in my views. In my last post, I wrote about the beautiful carefree nature of Greece. But now I’m starting to think it’s a double-edged sword.
Yesterday in Naxos, I had this amazing conversation with a Ukrainian-born Greece resident. His name is Ivan. I learned that he was a comp sci major who quit his IT job to become a waiter on the beach. Even though we were from opposite ends of the globe (him being from Ukraine and Athens) it was crazy hearing about our similar views. That money is a means not the goal and experiences matter more than things. That we should LIVE rather than just exist. That traveling is nice, but living abroad longer term can teach us more about how people think and live in different parts of the world. That though we need to enjoy the moment we should also have direction and work towards our passions, because we only have one shot at life.
This is Ivan
Ivan taught me about the Greek economy and how difficult it can be to pursue your dreams in Greece. In Athens, his IT salary was 600 euros a month. And his beach job is currently paying 25 euros a day for 8-9 hours of work. Granted, the cost of living is lower in Greece, but that type of pay makes it so hard to get out of debt and reach for a better life.
He also found that building websites and apps were hard when they were geared towards the Greek market. Since the market is small, even the owners of the biggest tech blogs in Greece made their blogs their side jobs rather than their main jobs. This made me wonder – if you geared your website to US audiences, would your location factor into United States SEO? Would it make it almost impossible to rank in the US? It also made me appreciate America and home so much more. It was kind of what I needed to hear. He hustles hard and constantly works on projects with his friend. His passion is programming but Greece makes it hard for him to get where he needs to be.
The conversation inspired me because it’s people like him who I want to help succeed – who think bigger and want to live for experiences. Who work hard but are restricted because of where they’re from. It makes me want to succeed myself so I can help others live out their potential.
But he also taught me something negative about Greece. And he says this is all his own opinion and there are always different sides to the story – so don’t bash me if I’m wrong! But I’m going to report what he told me and go off of his perspectives.
The carefree lifestyle seems to stem from their past history. The government would give out free things to people, and they have an extremely high percentage of homeowners because of this. And I heard that in the past, when homeowners were in debt and they passed away, the property – NOT THE DEBT – simply passed down to future generations (Update: Not sure about the accuracy of this). Wtf? Fortunately, they’ve changed the policy now. But I’m starting to understand the Greek economic crisis a lot more.
Greece owes a ton of money, but they’re still terrible at regulating its people. Many people don’t pay their taxes. They don’t pay their public transportation fees. And what does the Greek government do? Instead of getting better at regulating, they increase the tax amounts and fees until they’re impossibly high. Those who paid their taxes and paid the fees are going to want to stop giving money to the government when the rest of the population isn’t doing so. In this case, how is the economic crisis going to be solved? The future generations are enjoying their inheritances now, but later on they may be screwed because of the government and the way of life in the past.
I’ve realized the locals I talk to seem carefree BECAUSE of their inheritances. And if it’s true, I think all of this is making me feel more distant from Greece. I met another local who was obsessed with showing off his money, things, and titles. It made me want to puke. And now I realize it all makes sense.
Because of these conversations, I’ve been thinking more about the friends I want to surround myself with and even the type of guy I want to be with in the future. I realize that for me, similar values and background are crucial. I have a terrible physical attraction to dark-haired European men…my friends all know this…but when it comes down to it, I can relate better to people who grew up like me.
First of all, let me make it clear that I’m not actively searching for companionship. With this life abroad, my goals are to learn more about myself and work on financial independence and my passions. But I’m definitely open to the concept of relationships, and I’m more willing to date and meet new people than I was before.
Back to the topic. Does that mean I’m going to close off my “soulmate search” to finding someone of my ethnicity? No – I think there’s always possibility to find compatibility across different races and borders, etc. For example, PLATONICALLY, I found a connection to Ivan because we totally understood each other in our ways of thinking, even though we were from opposite ends of the globe. But as a Chinese American, these past few days have also made me appreciate home, America, Hong Kong, and Chinese values way more. I respect Chinese culture because we work hard and value family. We work hard to provide for our future generations and to take care of our past generations. But another question I have to ask is if we succeed in the present and hand things down to our kids, how will future generations appreciate what they have? How would I make sure my kids grow up grounded, open-minded, and appreciative?
Anyway my thoughts have been crazy these days because of the people I’ve been talking to. I’ve somehow been wanting to seclude myself further, even though I’m already secluding myself by being abroad. However, I’m excited to see my parents in two days. My brother and I bought them a 3-4 week vacation so they will be stuck with me for a few nights. And especially because of the unbearable heat in my flat in Athens, I’m honestly quite ready to leave for Bucharest on July 13!