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Monday, 22 May 2017

A Greek in London, from an essay by a Romanian In Poland

From Lost in Europe, by Claudia Ciobanu, Eurozine

‘It was as if the notoriously elusive European identity had finally come into existence, but as a nightmarish vision.’ Claudia Ciobanu, a Romanian living in Poland, describes the dilemmas and mixed feelings of ‘the voluntary migrant’, caught between revulsion at xenophobia and sympathy for the ‘losers of transition’.

Claudia is a freelance journalist with a focus on central and eastern Europe; she writes for international media. She lives in Warsaw.


"Iro, a Greek friend living in London, has experienced what it’s like to live in the UK capital, keeping both a utopian and a dystopian image of Greece in her mind: ‘When I thought I would be in London just for a short while and would go back to Greece, which I missed, I had a very negative attitude towards London and I couldn’t really appreciate anything. I felt very much like a stranger or a prisoner counting days inside.’

Unhappy with her London life, she went back to Athens, just when her country was seeing the first effects of the financial crisis. Back home, she was overwhelmed by the despair of people, which was sometimes pushing them into immoral behaviour. After two years she returned to the UK. ‘Now, after being disappointed by Greece and having been forced to look for something else, I am more open to notice and even admire some things which in Greece we don’t have, such as the politeness of people, the parks, the nice things happening in the city.’.

‘The first time, it was as if I had a line connecting me to Greece. When I cut it, I started seeing things as new and unique. It didn’t make sense doing what I was doing, comparing two very different things: the reality of London and the utopia of Greece.’

Still, she says, ‘Whenever I think about living in London for good, I am worried that some part of me would never be satisfied here, that I could not have here the life I would really like to live. It’s because of being a foreigner, but mostly it’s a cultural thing. Here the pace of life is fast, it’s just more difficult to hang out with people, you have to plan everything, schedule in advance any appointment, life here doesn’t have the free flow that I’m used to.’"

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