«Σε αυτή τη χωρα, είναι όλα ένα ρολοι»
I was born and raised in Athens. When I was 26, I met my husband. He had lived in Australia until he was 15, and then his family moved to Greece. We married and had 3 kids, a new home, and were happy.
I had a job in the Greek equivalent of OfficeWorks, and my husband worked as a mechanical engineer. In 2012 he started experienced issues with getting paid – he stopped getting paid. One day he came home and told me we were moving to Sydney, Australia. It was a swift decision, but one not taken lightly, as we had a mortgage and a family to raise. You hear people in Greece say “If everyone leaves, what will happen to Greece?” But you have to do what’s best for the future. I felt no hesitation.
We arrived in 2012, along with countless others. Up until that point, I could never have imagined that I would end up in Australia. That life would turn out this way, but we have been happy here, everything has been great.
My biggest concern when I arrived was finding people to talk to. I did not know anyone here, only my husband’s family, but they lived far away. It wasn’t so much that I missed Greece, I just yearned to have friends to catch up with, have a coffee and a chat with like in Greece, where I had left all my friends and koubaroi. Every time I heard Greek being spoken, I’d get so excited. As time went by I was fortunate enough to meet other Greeks, and form friendships. We have been so fortunate to have met great people, both in friendship, and in our neighbourhood as well. People who are willing to open up their hearts and homes to us.
When we went to Greece for a holiday in 2015 things felt different. It was the period leading up to the election and everything felt different. Everyone seemed unsettled, people were on edge. The crisis was all they could talk about. I couldn’t wait to get back to Australia. People my parents’ age were telling me “Go, and never return, except for a holiday. Greece is just for the summer now.” Whereas all our friends were saying “Why are you leaving?”
What I love most about Australia is the security and stability. You don’t have to worry about buses being cancelled due to strikes, schools being closed due to strikes, or not being able to access bank accounts. In this country, everything runs like clockwork.
‘Efiga, alla den ksefiga,’ as they say in Greek. ‘I left, but I haven’t gotten away,’ and my hope is for everything to turn out well. Both for those who have left, and for those who have remained.”
Mary Koutivi, Sydney Australia.