Introducing Bex! An unconventional British lass with a degree in International Relations, the wrong side of 35 and only just the right side of 40, Bex finds herself living in the unconventional country of Greece. She’s traveled to, lived and taught in various places around the globe—Sri Lanka, Cambodia and even helped teach English to the crew of a container ship travelling across the Atlantic Ocean!
What do you love the most about your expat life?
I don’t really consider myself an ‘expat.’ I like that I am actually not really an expat, but more of an honorary ‘Greek.’ I have mainly Greek friends and those expat friends I do have also mix very well with local people.
What inspired you to live overseas?
I’ve always felt more at home in foreign lands, especially the Mediterranean countries. I like the coffee culture, not the beer culture that pervades back in the UK or Australia.
You’ve lived in England, then Egypt, and now Greece – which of these three is the best place you have lived?
Britain is my birth country so it’s the place I’ve lived the longest. It’s difficult to say which one is “the best” as all are vastly different. I was only in Egypt for a short time so I didn’t get to understand much about the culture. Greece is fabulous in so many ways: beauty of the country and people (the kindness of them), and yet being here also makes me appreciate the effcientness of the UK.
In contrast to my answer above, I have to say that even though I can decry the UK sometimes (think weather and ‘Nanny state’), it is nice to be in a place where the simplest thing works ie: making a doctor’s appointment.
One thing which you don’t like about living overseas?
The uncertainty of whether I’ll have work every year. Unfortunately I have to work on part time contracts that end in the summer with no guarantee of being hired again for the next school year. This is the way it is here in my line of work (teaching English), even before the economic crisis.
I’m sure there’d be easier places to live with more money to be earned, but to be honest with you, my friends and my lifestyle outweighs any bad.
The greatest challenge you’ve faced while living overseas?
Adapting to a ‘siga siga’ culture (slowly slowly). Greek time? Think ‘island time’ and then reduce it by another ten. You’ve got a rough idea that things happen, but very slowly.
Have you had to change your diet living in a completely different country?
I haven’t ‘had’ to, but my diet is so much better. The Greeks use olive oil as opposed to saturated fats, so even their chips (fries) are healthier.
They don’t have many McDonalds and ready-made foods. There are a lot of takeouts, but souvlaiki, the national fast food dish made from pure grilled chicken or pork with salad and fries wrapped in pitta, is delicious and healthier than a burger.
Funniest travel moment?
Helping an old lady to pack her bags in the supermarket, she thanks me, then makes a spitting gesture in my direction, three times! It’s supposed to be a compliment: to ward off the evil eye of jealousy to such a beautiful person. I didn’t know it at the time though and left feeling quite perturbed that I’d helped someone, and she’d spat at me!
Three things you always carry in your luggage?
My Kindle, Notebook (computer) & iPod. A techie I’m afraid!
Most embarrassing moment living overseas?
Ordering a penis to eat (psoli) instead of bread (psomi). It was an honest mistake!
Top three dream destinations you’ve never been before?
Alaska (love the outdoors), Hawaii (for its beaches) and Mauritius (same re: beaches).
Most useful piece of travel advice for Greece?
Bring comfortable walking shoes for trecking around Athens & all her monuments. Learn to take two to three hours over a coffee, and rest assured, you will NOT be hassled by the waiter to either buy another, or move on.
Remember ‘Greek time!’