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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 26 January 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 26 JANUARY 2019 5 AUSTRALIA DAY BY THEODORA MAIOS Australia’s pros Space - lots of it and minimal environmental pollution A governmental system that works and gets things done A country of relative social justice – fair go for all Harmonious multiculturalism and its wonderful food choices Plenty of career opportunities – anyone can work A generally wealthy nation where you can prosper Greece’s pros A socially cohesive and family -oriented society- more than Oz Stunning landscapes, beaches and scenery all within a small space Heightened ‘filoxenia’ and ‘filotimo’ like nowhere in Australia Excellent unprocessed, natural and seasonal food Affordable and accessible to vacation in when coming from Australia A tangible sense of belonging to its place and a ‘spirit of place’ Australia’s cons Too far from anywhere to get to easily and inexpensively An over-regulated, police-imbued society Beautiful beaches but dangerous seas and lack of variety Isolated, nuclear social relations between Aussies with too few people Inherent insularity in its approach to the rest of the world Mediocre quality in the service industry while expensive to enjoy Greece’s cons Stifling and unnecessary bureaucracy that kills initiative After multi-ethnic Australia, Greece may seem too homogenous (dull) Chaotic infrastructure gives a sense of decay and disorder Greeks can seem to outsiders as too Hellenocentric and xenophobic Travel can be difficult and testing with varying standards and reliability Limited career & prosperity opportunities for both Greeks and Aussies Australia or Greece? The great debate THEODORA MAIOS On the occasion of today's Australia Day celebrations, a conversation on whether life is better in Australia or Greece tends to always stir some healthy debate - particularly amongst those firstgeneration Greeks who migrated to Australia back in the 1900's and the second and third generation Greek Australians who have been lucky enough to experience and get a glimpse of both countries. Many Greek Australians claim that life in Australia is easier. More career opportunities, an organised society and a relatively rich nation appear to be the fundamental key factors for those who choose to give their vote of confidence to Australia. On the other hand, drenched in natural light, stunning and affordable Greece, blessed with unique landscapes and crystal-clear waters, a socially cohesive and family-oriented lifestyle that's heightened by Greek filoxenia and filotimo appears to offer to some, a sense of belonging that they claim is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Others appear to be conflicted, with their heart yearning for Greece and their brain whispering Australia. So, what are the pros and cons of the two countries that we now call home and where would most of us choose to live if we had the opportunity to do so? "After all this time, my jury is still out as to which is better," says travel writer Paul Hellander who after forty years of living and moving between Australia and Greece, certainly knows a thing or two about the two countries, with his views coming from the perspective of a neutral, as he was born in neither country, lived extensively in both and his opinion is not in any way compromised by sentimentality and country bias. "I am in two minds; life in the Australian sun with money in my pocket yet far away from my birthplace and a land that I adopted as my spiritual home, or a life in the Hellenic sun (and snow!) living from hand to mouth among people who don't care because they have something more important – valid human relationships- spiritual wealth that surpasses material dependency," says Hellander who left his birth country, England, in the late 70s for Greece when England offered little to a university graduate imbued with the words of Homer and Kazantzakis. Hellander, a true philhellene who speaks fluent Greek at an academic level, started off in Greece and ended up in Australia while managing to still spend sizeable chunks of time in both countries. "Greece was light, Greece was old yet new at the same time, Greece was warm both climatically and socially while strangers talked to me as if I had known them forever. It was a magic mix and I was hooked. Greece was to be my new home." Hellander recalls that on arrival the newly democratised Hellenic Republic seemed chaotic, confusing and at times concerning to his British sensitivities. PreEU Greece was materially poor and struggling with its new-found democratic freedom and for the young British, living under the persistent winter rains of a northern country town with no access to English language books, papers, magazines or electronic media, it did look drab and boring, and therefore, he decided to look for some different light. "Australia shone its beacon just as restlessness was becoming an itch. It was a deal I could not ignore. Two years in the sun, a nice job in education, plenty of time to travel Australia and the near Pacific. It was a no-brainer. Australia was likeable! I liked it better than Greece so much so that I stayed on indefinitely." Things changed a little later. Greece entered a new era. Blessed by the Gods, the country boomed economically, it became richer, it joined the world community. Greece was modernising and an inquisitive Paul started visiting regularly both for professional and family reasons. He began to wonder about returning. "The truth is that the more you leave your feet under the one table the more difficult it is to put them back under the previous one, no matter how tempting it may look. Your shoes somehow grow glue," admits Hellander whose underlying concern was leaving behind a well-oiled and predictable income path for a potential life of day-to-day uncertainty and the utter frustration of plugging into a system that is until today "riddled with bureaucracy and incompetency." "How do you swap light for light when one is spiritually dull (Australia) and the other is incandescently unpredictable (Greece)," asks Hellander who appears to speak on behalf of many. "The jury is still in recess and I am destined to continue an existence of shared lives between two homes while taking the best of both and politely ignoring the rest.
19 January 2019
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