"I live in Denmark, where I am a researcher in migration, education and culture. I also work as a freelance communication associate and organizer for multicultural events. I am a migrant working for migrants! In early 2013 at the age of 27, I left Greece because I wanted to do my Masters in Denmark. My main goal, though, was to pursue better life opportunities in order to help my family financially.
When I first arrived in Denmark, my first impressions were quite negative; I felt no connection to the people and the culture whatsoever. Yet, after four and a half years, not only have my impressions changed, I have changed too — for the better, I hope. I observed and understood the Danish culture and way of thinking and I softened my views and my reactions towards the seemingly "peculiar" things that were happening around me.
I have my personal culture though, I don't feel that I am fully assimilated into the Danish culture nor that I kept my Greek culture intact. I have expanded beyond these stereotypes. I still miss the Greek warmth though, not only the weather but the warmth of the people.
I have experienced many different "migrant" statuses in the years since I left Greece; I was an international student and afterwards a migrant worker. I can say that a migrant is a person that leaves their home country in a pursuit of something different. The reasons behind migration are those that define the true meaning of the word migrant; it could be forced migration due to conflict or war, initiated by economic reasons, could be a change of life plans, a career, following a partner, seeking adventure or extraordinary experiences and more. But at the end of the day, home is where your loved ones and meaningful connections are. Right now, I have two homes.
The biggest challenge I had to overcome as an immigrant was, and still is, the fact that I have to prove myself again. Having no connections or friends, nobody to believe in me, I had to build everything from scratch in a somewhat alien environment. Yet I am confident in what I carried with me to the new country; an ability to think outside the "Danish" box, eagerness to achieve things, flexibility, creativity and passion. I also bring warmth and some spiciness!"
This story is brought to you in partnership with The Refugee Cultural Festival, 2017 edition. The festival was launched to encourage small, local actions to embrace diversity and support those forced to leave their homes due to war, famine and climate change. Learn more about the festival and donate by clicking here.