I generally do not like to talk about myself. I find it uncomfortable. In any case, since I decided to write this blog, I guess I need to speak a bit about myself.
I will still avoid using adjectives to describe me (unless it is of bad quality), and I shall instead focus on facts and experiences.
I grew up in a village on a small island in northern Greece. The island is called Thassos; it is spectacular in summer and close to how foreigners usually describe Greece. But the winter is cold (it can snow), quiet, and some would say boring (but not for me).
My family is one of the most incredible things that have happened to my life. I grew up in a very loving and caring environment. Generally, they describe family bonds in the Mediterranean as very strong. Well, ours are even stronger. My parents gave me all I ever wanted, and they still support me in anything I do.
I stayed on the island until I was 16. At this age, I was obsessed with basketball, and I wanted to play in a team. You see, in my village, there are 600 people during winter, and there is not even an outdoor basketball hoop, let alone a proper court. So, I told my parents: “I want to go to a city and play basketball”.
I was stubborn (and probably still am) and kept asking it until my parents gave in and considered it more seriously. Somehow, we found out that a private school in Thessaloniki offers yearly scholarships to students with high academic performance.
I was generally a good student. The competition in my school was not intense, but I still was the first in yearly grades among my pupils. So we thought I could stand a chance for the scholarship in this private school. And I took their exams.
Then, there was an interview (my first ever), and they offered me a scholarship. My desire became a reality. I moved to the city of Thessaloniki (the biggest city in Greece after Athens) and lived on my own in a small apartment. It was basketball that made me go there, but it was academia that kept me there.
The competition was much more intense than on my island. There were many other students with scholarships, and we were more than 100 in my year. However, I still managed to get the highest grades among these 100 students, and the college renewed my scholarship.
So, I stayed in Thessaloniki for the last year of high school. That was a crucial year. I was studying a lot to take the final exams, which could give me a spot in a greek university.
At the same time, I still wanted to play basketball, and so I did. Until I basically broke my knee, had surgery, and stayed in bed for two months. During this time, I casually applied for studying abroad through my school.
In the beginning, the thought of studying abroad was more entertainment rather than a serious plan. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. To be honest, I did enjoy the transition from my island to Thessaloniki. And I was curious to move forward. So I applied to English-speaking universities in Europe.
They offered me a seat in around half of the universities I applied to, and I decided to study in the Netherlands at the University of Maastricht. I was an 18-year-old arrogant fool when I went there. At 21, still a fool but now a completely different person, I finished my bachelor’s in economics and left Maastricht.
The experience of Maastricht changed me a lot. Before, I was a hard nut, conservative, nationalist idiot. After, I was more open to ideas and different opinions, definitely more open-minded and more of a socialist. But of course, still an idiot.
The most important thing I got during these years? That was the English language. Knowing to speak and read English is a phenomenal passport in this world. English is a password to an infinite collection of knowledge. If you know English, an answer to a question is just a few clicks (or google searches) away.
After Maastricht, I decided to spend half a year in Melbourne, Australia, for a study abroad period. There, I had my first eye-opening, real-life experience. Although I traveled a lot during this period (Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Fiji…), this life-changing experience did not come during travel.
It did not even come with my eyes open. I had my eyes closed, but it was more eye-opening than anything I had ever done. It was the first time I meditated. And it was by simple luck I ended up in that particular class. I was walking by in Melbourne, and a guy was giving out leaflets and encouraging pedestrians to join this free meditation seminar about to start in the next 15 minutes.
I had time to kill, so I said, “Why not?”. It is difficult to explain this experience in words. All I can say for sure: I just wanted more of it. For a few moments in my life, I wasn’t thinking anything; I was conscious; I was simply being.
I know these things may sound funny, but one thing I have understood in life: “All you know is by experience or perception; everything else is just imagination”. So do not take my word, do not believe me, do not disbelieve me. If you want to learn for yourself, try it. If not, ignore it. As simple as that.
From there started my journey within. It has been a fantastic journey. Spirituality has been (and continues to be) life-changing for me. I was always a fool. I am still a fool. But now I know I am a fool. That may sound weird, but I commit to talking more about it very soon in one of my blogs on the Spirituality topic.
Stockholm and Madrid
Since Australia, I have been consciously walking the journey of life in two different countries. I spent one year in Stockholm, Sweden, and another half in Madrid, Spain. During this time, I did complete a Master’s degree in international economics. However, my priority has been my self. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am pretty SELFISH.
The only thing is, your definition and my definition of the word “SELF” are most likely different. So better don’t judge right away. Or do, I don’t mind.
To be honest, I have been selfish (conventional “selfish”) for a long time. I have tried and am trying to change this aspect of mine. But since spirituality entered my life, I have hints of another way to solve this problem. I won’t talk about it now, but I shall do it in my blog from time to time.