ERASMUS+ AND YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES AND ORGANISATIONS RESOURCE FOR GREEKS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC

This post is a combination of two fantastic pieces of work: Daphne’s article on Erasmus+ she wrote a few months ago which comprises the bulk of this post, and Giorgi’s collection of Greek organisations that run European Erasmus+ projects that is a bit more comprehensive than the one Daphne put together. You will find that list at the bottom of the article.

 It can be a bit difficult to navigate through the vast, decentralised and chaotic field of European Youth Programs. That and the fact that  lot of it can sound too good to be true sometimes might discourage potential participants. Stick with it: it is true! The European Union’s allocation of funds might certainly be questionable in some areas (let’s not go there at this time, you know exactly what I’m talking about ), but there’s no doubt they’re investing tons of money in education and the future with Erasmus+.

Not all of it finds its way to the right hands, which could be said about all sort of freebie European Union money that’s come our way. However, you could definitely make the case that the same holds true for money as a concept in more general terms. But I digress—sorry, difficult to resist.

These big investments are part of a bigger picture, a plan so devious, its scope so ambitious, its goal so far-removed, it could only ever have been spawned in a bright, sterile meeting room in Brussels, in the incandescent depths of the HQ of the European Commission itself. Their goal, behind all of these lifelong-learning  and informal education bells and whistles, is the creation of nothing less than a common identity among young Europeans, a veritable European identity for the people who will have to deal with this shitstorm of gargantuan proportions heading our way, the true proportions of which we’re just starting to understand. That’s us, by the way.

I can’t tell if it’s working or not yet, or if perhaps creating this identity could be forming a barrier against the millions of non-Europeans that have started once again to enter European societies. But it can work; these programs teach tolerance and coexistence, after all. I do believe identifying as European can also mean accepting as European people who previously were not. It’s not, or at least it shouldn’t be, a limited-membership club. It wasn’t so in the past, and there’s no reason it should be now. That’s not how I look at peoples and nations at least and I’m glad I’m not alone.

Anyway. If we want to pull through this, all of this, as best we can, we need (informally) educated, internationally-oriented, risk-taking, adaptable and sensitive young people with a spirit of co-operation and participation. Erasmus+ programs are incredibly good at inspiring all these qualities in participants,  and more.

Ahem. This was supposed to be “just” a guest post. With this introduction of mine I was certainly planning to be shorter, I leave you to them. I hope this information proves useful to you. In fact, it can be quite life-changing, if you want or can allow it to.

erasmus+


Erasmus+ and youth opportunities resources for Greeks and the general public

This post has been long overdue. Since my first youth exchange in June 2013, I’ve talked with an ever-growing amount of people about what I do abroad, how I managed to find these projects, how it’s possible to do so many of them if I’m always broke as fuck and what exactly do I even get from them.

The last conversation I had was with the guys from the coding course I attended this week, and some of them showed great interest in what I had to say, since I already know a lot about these things. I absolutely despise talking, I get nervous and awkward and am unable to explain things properly, so writing is a much better way to get all this information out there.

So finally, here it is. A resource post with all the info and organisations I know about that have to do with youth mobility. Please, feel free to comment under my post if you are part of/know an organisation that you believe should be included in the list! Of course, I recognize that even my knowledge is quite limited compared to people that are actively involved in Erasmus+ as  part of an organisation.


First things first: What on earth is Erasmus+? (here is a bit more detailed page)

When people hear the word “Erasmus”, they instantly think that it’s all about the student mobility thing. Well, guess what. In short, Erasmus+ is the EU’s new programme for boosting skills and employability through education, training, youth, and sport. Before that there was Youth in Action.

The funding for the whole project is channeled to each country through the National Agencies. Through their pages you can find projects and information in your own language and contact them for inquiries.

So the lists that follow include NGOs that are either Sending (SO), Hosting (HO) or Coordinating (CO) organisations, or even all of the above! As copy-pasted from the programme guide, these mean:

    • Applicant organisation from a Programme Country: in charge of applying for the mobility project, signing and managing the grant agreement and reporting. The applicant can be a consortium coordinator: leading a mobility consortium of partner organisations of the same country aimed at organising any type of student and staff mobility.
    • Sending organisation: in charge of selecting students/staff and sending them abroad. This also includes grant payments (for those in Programme Countries), preparation, monitoring and recognition related to the mobility period.
    • Receiving (Hosting) organisation: in charge of receiving students/staff from abroad and offering them a study/traineeship programme or a programme of training activities, or benefiting from a teaching activity.
    • Intermediary (Coordinating) organisation: this is an organisation active in the labour market or in the fields of education, training and youth work in a Programme Country. It may be a partner in a national mobility consortium, but is not a sending organisation. Its role may be to share and facilitate the administrative procedures of the sending higher education institutions and to better match student profiles with the needs of enterprises in case of traineeships and to jointly prepare participants.

These may all sound kind of (or largely) unclear, so what essentially happens is, you find a SO in your country of residence, you apply for one of the projects they are offering (could be an EVS, or a training, or a youth exchange), you get accepted (or not), and you get to go to the country where that project is taking place. You’re hosted there by the HO. How to explain with clear, precise ELI5 wording what the CO part is still a bit unclear for me as well, so I would appreciate corrections and help here.


Personally, the crown and pride and glory of the Erasmus+ programme is European Voluntary Service, or EVS for short. It’s what I’ll be doing in the Netherlands from September 2nd.

Again, in short, if you are between 17 and 30, have spare time from two weeks up to a year in your hands, want to do something creative with your time, have no money to fund your interests, travel, meet other cultures and a horde of other like-minded people, EVS is for you. I strongly recommend it to people who are fresh out of university or school, have been unemployed for some time or just love travelling and experiencing new things. Or all of these! Important:

You will receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. The only thing you might have to pay is a small part of your travel costs.

Also important, you can only do EVS once in your life. If it’s a short-term project, you may be eligible to apply for a second EVS, but the time you spend abroad must be in total one year. Consider the possibilities carefully, because not everything is rainbows and unicorns. There are terrible projects out there, and people who just want to eat up the funding money. But don’t be discouraged like this – talk with people, do your research, ask me for recommendations and you’ll have the time of your life.

You can find ALL of the EVS projects here. You can search by country/town of preference and type of the project you want. The themes are extremely diverse. For example, I was a mentor of EVS volunteers who worked in TRAG, including therapeutic riding sessions for disabled people and of volunteers who worked in the offices of Greek Forum of Refugees.

In this European Youth page, you can also find other volunteering opportunities here, but I’ve never really participated in something like this so I can’t be of much help. Here you can find their Facebook page. I like organising things in lists, so I have put every page I’ll mention here in special list on Facebook. Good that it’s kinda worth it for something other than hoarding friends and stalking people.


Here we go then. It’s a clear list of NGOs that help you get involved with all the things I mentioned above!

Greek NGOs and other amazing groups of people:

This is not the best time for me to post this, because the Greek Nation Agency’s funding has been indefinitely suspended since April. You can probably discover the reason if you think about the state of the Greek political scene since the beginning of the year. What the suspension means is that there can be no projects implemented in the country whatsoever – no new EVS volunteers, no trainings, no youth exchanges, etc. The problems started way back of course, I remember the NA having financial difficulties for more than a year. BUT, you can still contact these NGOs to projects outside of the country – which I strongly advise you do. Most or all of these post regularly about new opportunites, be it short- or long-term. Keep in mind that even though I’m writing this in English so it can be accessed by everyone, a lot of the NGOs below have projects and information in Greek only.

You can also find some of these in the EVS database I linked above, if you search them by name.


I’ll start with this one as an honour, because I went to my first youth exchange through them. Everyone, meet

Based in Crete. I went through them to Finland, for a youth exchange called Creative Photography in the Finnish Wilderness, along with Garret and Dimitris. Gotta thank him for this whole business, cause he was the first to discover these things and went through Nuestro Mundo to Olde Vechte in Ommen, the Netherlands for a youth exchange in March 2013. That’s incidentally the organisation I’ll be going to for EVS.


Continuing with the organisation I was (am?) an EVS mentor for.

The Greek branch of Service Civil International. They will be my SO for going to EVS in Olde Vechte. They also organise a lot of workcamps which you can find out about in the page I linked here.


I know a couple of the guys involved here personally, and I love them. 😀

I think just their name is motivating in itself. Don’t be a couch potato.

Self-described as an informal group of ambitious people and filmmakers interested in new media & youth work.


I know their crazy dudette Antonia, who will never forgive me for taking away her tobacco.

You can also participate in workcamps through them.


They organised the last training course I went to, in Skoulikaria, Greece. They’re pretty new but have great aspirations.


I can’t remember how I found out about the rest of the NGOs, but probably through facebook shares or through people I met that knew them. Networking!

(Of course, there’s a lot more, and quite a few that are just Hosting/Receiving NGOs — meaning they can’t send out Greeks but only receive foreigners as EVS volunteers)


Other European organisations:

I will start with my favourite, since I’m going there for EVS in a couple of days. For a whole year! Woo!!

I strongly recommend attending at least one training/project happening in Olde Vechte, because you’ll start seeing your life change before your own eyes. I started with a youth exchange, and the place inspired me so much that I went back for a personal development training. From then on everything fell slowly into place and I decided it would be the best place for me to go to right now. There is an amazing amount of people who are working there, including the EVS volunteers and the trainers that come back several times per year to shake a bunch of young people up with their wise teachings.

OV is part of the Synergy Network, that organises trainings (either open calls or funded by the EU) for personal and professional development.

Right now the Spectrum Synergy project is ongoing.


Continuing in the Synergy business, I’ve also got to know some of the guys involved here. They’re real good! (They also have a wonderful partner page)


Moar Synergy. Their team has some amazing members and I’ve wanted to participate in some action with them for a long time, but I never got the chance. Soon, I hope!


Never had to do anything with these guys but I’m pretty sure they’re awesome too.


Welp, there’s also the Greek one. Starring my favourite mouse on their fb page.


Another NGO that is involved with Synergy and a long-term wish of mine to get involved in. Hungary.


More Balkan stuff, specifically Bulgarian. I went back and forth so many times in 2014 that it will always be in my heart, even though I wasn’t closely involved with any NGO there. Most of the info is in Bulgarian.

  • Balkan Kids| SO, HO (Hey David :D)
  • CVS Bulgaria | Facebook | SO, HO, CO
  • Suddenly I’ve forgotten half of the NGOs I got to know there. Ok. There’s still the EVS database.

Czech. Got to know through Šárka. 🙂


Cyprus! I visited (and was hosted at the volunteer’s places) both of them when I was in Nicosia (thanks to Toni :D) and later got to know Iliana from YEU in a training course in Bulgaria. Small world!!


Ok. This is getting really long, so I’ll now link to some more general resources which post about trainings all over.

First, here are some facebook groups (not my favourite thing because there’s too many posts):

Again, there’s quite a lot more of them, once you get involved they’ll start popping out like daises.

And some more pages and websites that can help you get into things.

Edit 31.08.2015: Panagiotis prompted me to add this one, it seems quite promising and I had been looking for something like it for a long time.

You can basically search for upcoming projects based on where you reside and where and when you want to go.

A network of eight Resource Centres working on European priority areas within the youth field. As part of the European Commission’s Training Strategy, SALTO-YOUTH provides non-formal learning resources for youth workers and youth leaders and organises training and contact-making activities to support organisations and National Agencies within the frame of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ :Youth in Action programme and beyond.

The Alliance of European Voluntary Service Organisations is an International Non-Governmental Youth Organisation that represents national organisations which promote intercultural education, understanding and peace through voluntary service.

The European Youth Foundation (EYF) provides assistance and funding for youth activities which promote human rights, democracy, tolerance and solidarity.


Facebook:

  1. Hellenic Youth Participation
  2. Youthfully Yours GR
  3. Προγράμματα Aνταλλαγής – Youthnet Hellas!
  4. Elix/ Ελιξ- Προγράμματα Εθελοντικής Εργασίας
  5. Youth in Advancement 18plus.gr
  6. Citizens in Action
  7. Think Positive
  8. United Societies of Balkans
  9. System & G – Greece
  10. You in Europe
  11. SCI Hellas
  12. Erasmus+ Youth Greece
  13. Εrasmusplusyouth
  14. Εν Γνώσει
  15. Horizonsforyouth
  16. Greece in Action
  17. KANE Κοινωνική Ανάπτυξη Νέων / Social Youth Development
  18. UNESCO Youth Club of Thessaloniki
  19. E.A.S.T.
  20. Be pART
  21. Breaking The Borders
  22. Association of Intercultural Communities
  23. Youth for Exchange and Understanding
  24. interaliaproject
  25. Break the Couch

 

Sites:

  1. Ευρωπαϊκή Εθελοντική Υπηρεσία
  2. http://erasmusnow.com/
  3. Eurodyssey
  4. The SALTO-YOUTH Resource Centres provide
  5. Nuestro Mundo

 

General programs and sites:

  1. http://joinyouth.com/
  2. http://youth-portal.com/
  3. http://goabrod.blogspot.gr/
  4. http://www.mladiinfo.eu/

TWO FALSE FRIENDS IN GREEK AND ENGLISH THAT ARE ANTONYMS

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Greek: εκλεκτικός/eklektikós

someone who is strict in their choices; picky.

English: eclectic

deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.


Greek: εμπάθεια/empáthia

intense negative emotions towards somebody; enmity.

English: empathy

the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective.


I’ve been using both of these words incorrectly, the one in English, the other in Greek (like a true bilingual, yay) and I only found out recently. Who can blame me?!

“The many reasons (32 so far) why we DON’T succeed in learning languages, and retorts for why we can”

Daphne had been insisting that I leave the inn in HabitRPG I had so cozily settled in the past few weeks; thatTrapper Santa boss would certainly not kill itself! I actually did, but actually I hadn’t. By some mistake I didn’t really click on the button which makes you leave the inn (or the flipping site/my laptop/our internet was being unresponsive) and thus missed my opportunity to join the party and fight the boss. This made me very angry indeed. I started fidgeting around the site trying to find a way to undo this when I clicked on Challenges.

One of the top ones was Learn a Foreign Language. I was intrigued of course and swiftly followed a link sending me to an article titled the same as the title of this post on a site called Fluent in 3 Months.

While the author is plugging himself in more ways I considered possible, it’s a very encouraging and thorough read for someone like me whose ambition is to become a polyglot,  but it could be just as useful for anyone aiming to learn a foreign language . You’re probably going to get information overload from that one but it’s worth a try and anyway it’s a valuable resource. Even I had no idea all these sites existed dedicated to all these different kinds of language practice. I had probably just never looked hard enough for them, subconsciously following some of those 32 excuses myself…

Storm Corrosion – Ljudet Innan

Storm Corrosion. I’ve been waiting for this collaboration since I first heard about it a little after PT’s last concert in Athens. Mikael Åkerfeldt & Steven Wilson promised they would be writing some music together which wouldn’t be for the fans at all; they would be making it for themselves. With this album, the trifecta of Grace for DrowningHeritageStorm Corrosion is complete. The duo’s work of the previous year has been phenomenal, incredible. Magic. I wonder what would have come out of all this if they had strived to make music for someone other than themselves…

The title of the song is Swedish for “The sound before”.

The sound before… the Greek election results? Doing some Java with the ulterior motive to get on with my life? This crazy love I’ve been waiting to share my all with? Realising that this is the first day of the rest of my life or that the Present is all there is?

The sound before. No more needs to be said.

 

Και του χρόνου

Ετοιμαστείτε: μπαίνει το 2012. Σαν ψέμα μου φαίνεται…

Και καμιά καλή ιδέα για απόψε. Μφ. {:τ

Lyrics
Πόση ώρα τώρα προσπαθείς να συνδεθείς
Και σε πετάει έξω ο υπολογιστής
Στον ξύπνο κόσμο έξω απ’ το λογισμικό
Πως βρέθηκες ξανά εδώ

Που σου χτυπάν’ την πόρτα νάνοι και παιδιά
Και ψέλνουν με βιασύνη την αρχιχρονιά
Κι εσύ που τόσο θα ‘θελες να ξεχαστείς
Προφταίνεις κάτι να ευχηθείς.

Μα είν’ αλήθεια πως ο χρόνος
Ο,τι παίρνει, το παίρνει για πάντα
Κι είν’ αλήθεια πως μετά τα τριάντα
Είναι δύσκολο να κάνεις αρχή
Κι είν’ αλήθεια πως και φέτος
το φλουρί θα το βρούνε οι άλλοι
και για σένα θα μείνει μονάχα η κραιπάλη
κι ο ύπνος το πρωί.

Μα κάποιος στρώνει τσόχα, κάποιος πλάι στο φως
Κοιτάει να πέσει έγκαιρα ο γενικός
Και κάποιος γράφει σε CD μια συλλογή
Και κάποιος ντύνεται να βγει.

Κι εσύ που πελαγώνεις και παραπατάς
Και στο τηλέφωνο ποτέ δεν απαντάς
Ανοίγεις το παράθυρό σου και κοιτάς
Και σκέφτεσαι κι εσύ να πας.

Γιατί ο χρόνος δεν υπάρχει
Γιατί ο χρόνος είσαι εσύ και οι άλλοι
Και κανείς δε γνωρίζει η ζωή που θα βγάλει
Κι όλο αυτό είναι μια μεγάλη γιορτή
Κι όποιος είπε “και του χρόνου”
θα εννοεί πως δεν τελειώσαμε φέτος
Ευτυχές και στο χέρι μας το νέο έτος
Και πες το μου κι εσύ.

Ψιλαίνοντας τα δίχτυα

Φόρος από τα 350 ευρώ το μήνα! 300 ευρώ θα παρακρατηθούν από μισθούς ώς τον Ιανουάριο • 4 χρόνια θα πληρώνουμε το τέλος ακινήτων • Αύξηση φόρου πετρελαίου: θα κάνουν 980 ευρώ τα 1.000 λίτρα • Σε θεωρητικό αναβρασμό οι βουλευτές του ΠΑΣΟΚ

ΦΟΡΟ εισοδήματος ακόμη και για όσους ζουν κάτω από το όριο της φτώχειας (6.500 ευρώ, Eurostat) επιφύλαξε η κυβέρνηση, η οποία ρίχνει το αφορολόγητο στα 5.000 ευρώ, κόβει μισθούς και συντάξεις, στέλνει στην ανεργία αμέσως 30.000 δημοσίους υπαλλήλους του στενού και ευρύτερου δημόσιου τομέα μέσω της εργασιακής εφεδρείας, αυξάνει το φόρο στο πετρέλαιο θέρμανσης, που θα μας στοιχίζει 980 ευρώ τα 1.000 λίτρα από τον επόμενο μήνα, και επεκτείνει τον ειδικό φόρο στα ακίνητα μέχρι το 2014. Η τελική συμφωνία θα κλειστεί με την τρόικα την ερχόμενη εβδομάδα. Εντονη δυσαρέσκεια, αγωνία και προβληματισμός, όπως και απόψεις που φτάνουν μέχρι και σε σενάρια κυβέρνησης εθνικής ενότητας ή και πρόωρων εκλογών, υπάρχουν στο εσωτερικό της Κοινοβουλευτικής Ομάδας του ΠΑΣΟΚ, μετά το νέο σοκ των μέτρων.

Πλήρες θέμα…

(Ελευθεροτυπία, 22/09/2011)


Mια ματιά σε αυτό το γραφικό από το παραπάνω άρθρο της Ελευθεροτυπίας είναι παραπάνω από ενδεικτική σχετικά με τις προθέσεις των «ψαράδων». Τα υψηλά εισοδήματα δεν έχουν υπωστεί καμία αύξηση στην φορολογία, η οποία παραμένει χαμηλή (κάτω από το 25%). Και τι κάνουν; Μειώνουν το αφορολόγητο στα 5.000 ευρώ. Είναι σαν να πηγαίνεις για ψάρεμα, να πιάνεις ξιφίες και αθερίνα (για να μην πω κριλ και θεωρηθώ υπερβολικός), και να πας σπίτι σου για να ταίσεις την οικογένεια σου με την αθερίνα. Εν τω μεταξύ έχεις και φαλαινοκαρχαρίες σε αυτή την φανταστική θάλασσα, αλλά ούτε καν σκέφτεσαι να τους χρησιμοποιήσεις για τροφή. Αυτοί όχι μόνο θα έτρεφαν την οικογένεια σου για έναν μήνα, αλλά ολόκληρο το ψαροχώρι για τρεις.

Ίσως επειδή στην δική μας περίπτωση οι φαλαινοκαρχαρίες δεν είναι τόσο Μεγάλοι Φιλικοί Γίγαντες…

1. Μηνιαίος μισθός 6.100 ευρώ. 2. Σύνταξη μετά από 4 χρόνια βουλευτικής θητείας. Ποσό σύνταξης μηνιαίως 4.880 ευρώ. 3. Για συμμετοχή σε επιτροπές, 250 ευρώ την ώρα… 4. Οι βουλευτές της επαρχίας παίρνουν το μήνα 1.000 ευρώ για ενοίκιο. 5. Όλοι οι βουλευτές παίρνουν άπαξ 1.500 ευρώ για οργάνωση γραφείου και 1.000 ευρώ τις γιορτές λόγω αυξημένης επικοινωνίας με τους ψηφοφόρους τους. Το Δώρο Χριστουγέννων, Πάσχα και επίδομα αδείας είναι ξεχωριστά. … … 6. Δικαιούνται 104 αεροπορικά εισιτήρια ετησίως δωρεάν και απεριόριστες μετακινήσεις με ΟΣΕ και ΚΤΕΛ. 7. Πολυτελές αυτοκίνητο, δωρεάν καύσιμα με επίδομα 600 ευρώ το μήνα, ένα χωροφύλακα για φρουρό, 4 κινητά τηλέφωνα τελευταίας τεχνολογίας και ένα στο σπίτι, σταθερό, όλα δωρεάν. 8. Απολαμβάνουν πλήρους ασυλίας για όποιο αδίκημα διαπράξουν κατά τη διάρκεια της θητείας τους ως βουλευτές. 9. Δεν πληρώνουν φόρο για ένα μέρος του μισθού ή της συντάξεως. 10. Δικαιούνται γραμματειακή υποστήριξη για 4 υπαλλήλους και 1 επιστημονικό συνεργάτη. Όλους αυτούς τους πληρώνει το Δημόσιο. 11. Δικαιούνται άτοκα δάνεια ως βουλευτές και ως επαγγελματίες. 12. Δωρεάν γυμναστήριο, σάουνα, νηπιαγωγείο για τα παιδιά τους. 13. Τηλεφωνική ατέλεια. 14. Δωρεάν επισκέψεις σε αρχαιολογικούς και καλλιτεχνικούς χώρους. 15. Δωρεάν διόδια. 16. Δωρεάν εισιτήρια, ξενοδοχεία, γεύματα όταν ταξιδεύουν στο εξωτερικό ως μέλη επιτροπών κλπ…..ΟΙ ΑΜΟΙΒΕΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΤΗ ΣΤΙΓΜΗ ΠΟΥ ΟΙ ΠΟΛΙΤΕΣ ΣΤΕΡΟΥΝΤΑΙ ΤΑ ΒΑΣΙΚΑ …

English translation for my non-Greek speaking friends:
1. Monthly salary 6.100 euro. 2. Pension after 4 years of parliamentary service. Pension is 4.880 euros per month. 3. For participation in comitees, 250 euros per hour. 4. PMs from rural Greece receive 1.000 euros per month to pay their rent. 5. All PMs receive 1.500 euros to reorganise their office and 1.000 euros during holidays due to increased contact with their voters.Bonus salaries paid at Christmas, Easter and paid leave count separately… 6. PMs are entitled to 104 free air tickets per year, as well as unrestricted transportation by train and intercity bus. 7. Luxury car, free fuel paid for with 600 euros per month, bodyguard, four state-of-the-art mobile phones and a fixed one at home, all for free. 8. They enjoy full parliamentary sanctuary for any legal offense they commit during their work as PMs. 9. They do not pay tax for part of their salary or pension. 10. They are entitled to secretarial support for 4 employees and one scientific adviser. All paid by the state. 11. They can take out 0% interest loans, as PMs and as professionals. 12. Free gym, sauna, kindergarten for their children. 13. –no idea what this is, someone help!– 14. Free visits to archaeological sites and artistic venues. 15. Free tolls. 16. Free tickets, hotels, meals when travelling abroad as parts of delegations etc… THEIR INCOME, WHILE CITIZENS ARE LACKING THE BASICS…

Κι έτσι, οι αθερίνες εξαφανίστηκαν από αυτή την κατα τ’άλλα μαγική θάλασσα, και η τροφική αλυσίδα έσπασε. Κανείς δεν ξέρει τι απέγινε το ψαροχώρι. Κάποιοι λένε ότι ήρθε η πολυεθνική αλιευτική από την διπλανή πλούσια μεγαλούπολη, αυτό θα εξηγούσε τα ιχθυοτροφεία τα οποία βρίσκονται τώρα στο πρώην ψαροχώρι, αλλά κανείς δεν δίνει πολύ μεγάλη σημασία…

Danish Diaries #7

University classes have started (first lessons last week for Media Management & Journalism 3.0, I still haven’t had a class of Digital Media Ethics or Great Works of Art, although I had to listen to Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beate Vergine as preparation for the first class — listen to it if you like big band Baroque!) I’m meeting more and more people (and I thought the ~100 people of Destination DK was a lot; how about ~1500? That’s how many exchange students are here for the semester!), and, to be honest, the novelty is starting to wear off.

Just yesterday, it was “the biggest Friday bar of the year” (every department has its own Friday Bar which opens in the afternoons of, get that, Fridays, to accommodate thirsty and tired students from all of the week’s stress. Generally, just another excuse to chug beer and party.) So, yes, yesterday was the biggest Friday bar of the year. Close to the university park lake there was a stage on which there were teams playing Beer Bowling, with a large crowd surrounding the stage and loud club music blaring on the speakers. I found a lot of other exchange students around there but I wasn’t feeling like socialising under those conditions, it was too crowded and brainless and I could honestly see no fun in it. I mean, I’d like to play Beer Bowling with friends, but as a spectator sport?

Looks like fun. If you're Danish.

I’m trying to decide… What kind of fun do I like? On the one hand I really like quiet, personal, hyggelig situations with or without friends, watching a movie, discussing over good, just-cooked food — oh it feels so great cooking, I wonder why I wasn’t doing it all these years?! Thanks Ana and Cedric for helping with get in the hang of it! — playing a board game, subtle fun I don’t get very often these days except with very certain people. On the other hand, I can enjoy big parties and loud music, I like dancing (the alcohol percentage in my blood is inversely proportionate to my musical eclecticness, big surprise!) and I like meeting people, but yesterday I just wasn’t feeling up to it at all. Yes, there were even some girls that I wouldn’t mind talking to in there, some that I had met before and others that I wish I would, but just couldn’t. You know, I find it hard to just talk to strangers but even harder to talk to people I’ve exchanged a few words with already. I don’t know whether it’s shyness, indifference, dismissiveness or one of these masked as one of the other two

Anyway, I decided I wasn’t having any fun and just walked from the university park back home, mp3 player alternating between the audiobook I’m currently obsessed with and Primsleur Essential Spanish… Actually I do this quite a lot these days, walking from Skoldhøjkollegiet to Århus and back. It takes around an hour, it’s good exercise, I listen to audiobooks and my favourite music, it fills me with positive vibes and it’s free, unlike taking the bus! This is the optimal walking (and I also presume biking) route, my stride took only 59 minutes yesterday. τ^^ Rain will most definitely be a problem now that winter is coming, but eh, I’ll worry about that when winter is here.

Two weeks ago my Danish classes restarted, this time in a more serious environment. I have two lessons every week, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. At the end of September I’m going to sit for my first test in Danish. If I succeed, I’ll  jump from complete-beginner Module 1 to almost-beginner Module 2. All I need to do to pass is speak about either a topic of my preference (I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT I SHOULD CHOOSE TO BABBLE ON ABOUT! Greece? Food? Denmark? My hobbies? Aasfgfdlfkg?) or one of three books I’ll have to read beforehand. Oh, I had forgot the sensation of language exam stress! Missed you old chap.

I was in the mood to record some Danish for you tonight, maybe try to work on my pronounciation a little. I used a text I wrote almost a month ago for my Destination DK classes. My Danish is not much better today, but I can spot some mistakes I made back in August when I wrote this. I left them in for historicality.

Jeg hedder Dimitris Hall. Jeg kommer fra Grækenland, fra byen Nea Smyrni i Aten. Jeg er 22 år gammel. Jeg studerede kulturel teknologi og kommunikation til fem år på Ægæisk Universitetet, på øen af Lesvos. Min mor er græske og min far er australsk. De er sklit 20 år. Jeg har ingen søskende. Jeg bor i Århus to uger på Skoldhøjkollegiet og vil bor her i et halvt år. Jeg har mødet mange udvekslingsstuderende. Danmark er grøn med mange træer, skov og cykler. Desværre, jeg har ikke cykel nu, og jeg har ikke mange pengen. Men jeg finde Danmark og Århus hyggelig og jeg er glad at være her. Grækenland er ikke samme måde med Danmark. Grækenland er varm og ikke grøn, de har ikke mange penge der. Men Danmark og Grækenland har mange øer og jeg kan lidt øer og havet.

Translation:

My name is Dimitris Hall. I come from Greece, from the town of Nea Smyrni in Athens. I am 22 years old. I study Cultural Technology and Communication for five years at Aegean University, on the island of Lesvos. My mother is Greek and my father is Australian. They’re divorced 20 years. I have no siblings. I’ve lived in Aarhus for two weeks at Skjoldhøjkollegiet and will be living here for half a year. I have met many exchange students. Denmark is green with many trees, forests and bicycles. Unfortunately, I don’t have a bicycle now, and I haven’t got much money. But I find Denmark and Aarhus nice (cozy!) and I’m happy to be here. Greece is not the same as Denmark. Greece is warm and not green, they haven’t got much money there. But Denmark and Greece have many islands and I like islands and the sea.

June 15th Moon Eclipse Incredible Photograph

June 15th was a cloudy evening in Mytilini and me and my friends weren’t able to catch the lunar eclipse, much to my extreme disappointment. But now that I see this, I hardly care that I was not able to catch it…

After months of anticipation and exhausting preparations and planning for taking photos of the total lunar eclipse, everything went wrong due to a severe thunderstorm during the phenomenon. Everything? Well…fortunatelly no, because for approximately 10 minutes in the middle of totality, a small window in the sky allowed me to see the Moon in the Earth’s shadow and shoot this unbelievable photo. The shot was taken from Ikaria island at Pezi, an area known as “the planet of the goats”, because of the rough terrain with the strange looking rocks.
Source: http://www.greeksky.gr/files/photos/moon/20110615Eclipse.htm

Τα συγχαρητήρια μου στον φωτογράφο, αυτή η εικόνα είναι απλά ύμνος στην ομορφία του ουρανού…

99 Things I HATE! ~ Part 2

Part 1

21. I drink beverages too fast.


I sit for a coffee with friends. Sluuuurp! Up the straw it goes before anyone has even touched their own beverage of choice. It’s worse with alcoholic drinks… I don’t ever seem to realise that when it’s over, it’s over! And I just sip, sip sip the night away. I also eat and smoke faster than most people when in the company of others. It’s only then that comparison with others’ still full plates/glasses is possible and my worried, thoughtful scratching of beard is only natural. My solution? I just steal from the others’ food and drink.

22. I don’t know anything about Greek Music.

It has happened too many times to count: I’m with a big company at some taverna or place that is suitable for accommodating a number of people in the double digits. Everyone’s having fun, talking vividly and eating more vividly. Then, when everyone’s feeling cheerful, someone, somewhere, utters the words to the first song. And everyone catches on; and everyone sings along; and turn-in-turn everyone butts in with their own favourite Greek words and everyone else follows suit. It’s like that when there’s a live program as well. Guy playing the guitar, singing his songs that everyone knows. It doesn’t take much to take it out of you if you’ve drunk sufficient quantities of alcohol. “All together now!” And we all sing together.

Except me.

These songs… How should I put it. Yes. I might have heard them, I might even remember one or two lyrics just from sheer repetition (this kind of thing happens to me quite often), I usually remember the melody but I can never join the fun. Friends or acquaintances might know every single song by heart but I’m just left there to look around silently trying my best to have a good time but failing miserably, always thinking “wow. This feels so awkward. It sucks.”

Alas, such behaviours never go unnoticed. When everyone’s singing and they catch wind that I am not, they try to encourage me to join them. In the wake of their inevitable failure they look so disappointed in me, so… how should I say. There’s a certain Greek word that roughly translates into “party-pooper” and “killjoy” but lacks any of the playfulness of those two words. It’s kind of a brutal word, now that I think of it. It’s ξενέρωτος. Oh I’ve got that a lot throughout the years. I also get “you don’t know these songs?? You’re not really Greek”. I’ll let the look on my own face by this point to your imagination.

It feels as if knowing about Greek music is such a big part of our culture here that you can’t help not stick out like an alpine fox in the mud if you’ve kept well away from anything that has to do with the domestic musical product for pretty much your entire life. It’s not that I hate Greek music. I want to come to terms with it, explore and discover artists I’m bound to like or already know I like but haven’t bothered looking into more (Pavlos Sidiropoulos, Thanassis Papakonstantinou, Alkinoos Ioannidis, Lavrentis Maheritsas, works by Kavadias turned into songs). Some people in my life have helped me somewhat with discovering and getting to know some Greek music but never decisively and never beyond the realms of satisfying some of my polite curiosity. It’s that it’s polite curiosity at best.

What can I say? Maybe I’m not really Greek after all if I can’t, for the life of me, get into it all. Which is a perfect intro for my next hatred entry:

23. Nationalism.

Some Greeks call me Australian. Some (most?) Australians would call me Greek if I returned to OzzyLand. I’m really both and neither. My national identities sort of negate eachother but at the same time create a completely new existence, like a Yin and a Yang that alone are whole but together are whole-er. This may be the reason I could never exactly or comfortably identify with national ideas except for when I was only little (funny how “nationalist” children can be, or we’ve all been as children).

I don't like nor believe in flags but this could well be the flag of whatever my real nationality is. Designed by me.

This open-mindedness by default comes with a cost, however. A multicultural background always helps you break through the wall of deceit but at the same time alienates you from any and all cultures you might have some heritage from including the one you were born in. You start to inhabit your own space in the cultural web, at first as little more than a means to survive but eventually enjoying this uniqueness of yours, weaving your own new threads and connections, keeping the best from both worlds and inevitably creating a new one while you’re at it.

It’s all very nice and postmodern of course but other people look at you suspiciously. You’re one of them but not exactly. Everyone must belong, granted, but you can’t seem to decide whether you belong somewhere or nowhere. An ultimate decision is unlikely. And then there comes a day when you, tired of all this vagueness, ask yourself: why must nationality form the end-all be-all criteria of “belonging” in the first place? Aren’t there more important aspects to a person?

Nationalism might be one of the things I hate the most. I’ve come to hate it so much, so deeply, I find it hard to express myself, to find words that might accurately portray how deep this hatred goes. I’ll try.

To me, nationalism is a bit like football teams (another of the 99 things, can’t be a coincidence). You support an idea or a group of people just because you belong to it. Also called ethnocentricism for us social scientists. ~^, Having a concrete sense of national identity isn’t a bad thing on its own but most usually, just like with football teams and religion for that matter, it comes with denying everyone else’s right to do exactly what you’re doing: love their country above all else. Of course, again just like football teams and religions, nations are so self-centered they believe they are the only ones in the right, that there’s only enough room for none other than themselves at the top. Nations see everyone else as threats, as others, and that alone creates a self-fulfilling prophecy; when everyone sees everyone else as a threat some kind of threat is indeed created out of thin air. Just like when two people want to trust each other but because they’re afraid that the other will not want to comply, they keep to themselves, wholly generating their own image of untrustworthiness. It’s an endless loop.

Most nations have been founded on lies we now take for granted, unshakable truths, but this isn’t the time for me to go into detail on that. I hope you can understand what I mean. Nations have only served to distill fear, isolationism and hatred into people’s hearts. As a concept they encourage people to look for differences among themselves, not similarities, at least as far as inter-national relations are concerned. The similarities that can be found in the people within the borders of the nation-state are imaginary, arbitrary and never well-defined. Naturally, universal truths like love, friendship, global or special (species-al) co-operation are the first to die for the sake of national integrity and identity. It’s not much different than the ridiculous idea of loving your video game console so much you automatically hate, out of fear perhaps, anyone who might love another console. With the difference that people have died, killed others and created complex and perfectly valid — in social terms — historical narratives to support this madness in theory as well as in practice.

It’s everywhere, from the Olympic Games and Eurovision *spit* to wars of the past and lingering ideologies. In the name of your country you might be made to feel like it’s your duty to protect it against aliens and immigrants, secure your cultural traditions and history including religion and language, avoiding to look out to the world, because you were never taught that such a thing might not be such a bad idea after all. It might be dangerous. People out there are bad, they wish nothing more than the downfall of you and your country.

I’ve seen too many people get obsessed with lies about “racial” traits (I’m tired of listening to Greeks think they’re Ancient Greeks or their descendants… SO tired…), looking back and jerking themselves off with their nonsensical grand histories so that they can avoid looking at the awful present and the grim future while still feeling as if they’re something important or special. It enables people to feel good about themselves when they’ve been good for nothing. How can ANYBODY feel special about something they never earned or fought for themselves? I suppose unhappy times call for such sad measures.

If world borders, nation-states’ cornerstones, were torn down tomorrow, it’s probable that great wars would erupt, everyone still with their mind on national interests battling it out for a better place under the sun. A world without borders would require a world without ownership, another can of worms altogether. But in a world with no nations people might eventually discover the beauty of not having to fit in, of not being caged by your parents or what part of the earth you were born in but by what your actions are.

I wish people could feel the airy and  open-mind they could have instead of the musty, dark closed-mind they’ve had since forever and take sick pride in.

24. Getting distracted for hours on the net doing nothing I set out to do.

“I’m going to log-in. I’m going to check my e-mail, see Kalionatis’s site, download the notes, after that I’m going to see Tsekouras’s site and download his notes. Then I’ll do a little bit of Delphi, after that I’ll send some e-mails to my beloved friends and check out Helix’s workcamps; I really want to take part in some of those programs!”…

*Escapist* *Hotmail* *MSN* *Matador* *Cubimension, writing* *Hotmail* *Game 2.0* *XKCD* *Cubimension, reading* *MSN* *Facebook stalking — I KNOW I DON’T HAVE A FACEBOOK!* *Goodreads* *tvtropes* *Wikipedia hopping* *Random site about some random new interest of mine* *Steam offers* *IMDB* *Flickr* *Some porn site* *MSN* *Couchsurfing* *Various interesting blogs* *Youtube* *Looking into all about that new interest of mine* *Grooveshark, discovering new bands I found out about on progarchives.com and allmusic.com* *MSN* *

Dayum… what’s left to re-check and re-re-check?*

What was it that I wanted to do again?

25. Loose handshakes.

“Oh hi… I’m *insert name here*, pleased to meet you”.

Oh, how many times have people made a bad impression on me just because that first greeting was accompanied by a loose handshake and a fleeting glance? Seriously people. Look at others in the eye when you meet them. Squeeze their palm like you mean it, NOT as if you couldn’t care less. Which is probably true anyway.

26. Moving deadlines.

“OK I’ll have it ready by then”. But “then” never comes. Being a person of the absolutely utter last minute, that means that I can never get anything done, doesn’t it?

27. Delays on booting.

Black screen. Reboot. Black screen. Reboot. BIOS startup holds up at memory testing. CTRL+ALT+DEL, nothing happens. Hard reset. BIOS completes startup, then computer freezes when loading Windows. Hard reset. BIOS startup insists there’s no more than a single core in my dual-core CPU and thus refuses to continue (out of spite?). Hard reset. At last, at some point, Cuberick decides to open his eyes, sweep off his waking grogginess and serve me, more a result of luck than anything.

The funny thing is that when it’s up and running there’s no problem whatsoever. Heh. Maybe it’s like how it’s with cars where you’ve got to get the engine all warmed-up first or something. Hermes knows how on Earth I’ve resisted beating Cuberick to a pulp time after time. Not that it matters. He’s already managed to beat himself to a pulp with no further assistance needed from me.

28. Facts caught up from Wikipedia.

-“Did you know that blah-blah?”
*where blah-blah, insert your favourite fact you yourself have already read on Wikipedia but know plenty of stuff about it from non-Wiki sources*
-“Yes I did, but it sure doesn’t sound like anything you spent too much time looking into. What you did is you just presumed you’re the more informed of the two of us just because you’ve happened to have read the Wiki page. So, you see, Mr/Ms. Smartass, I’m afraid you’re not the only one around here reading and skimming pages on that site more than necessary”.

Asking further questions usually results in disappointment and less-than-accurate answers. And when it doesn’t, it feels so sterile I can almost smell the Dettol in the air.

29. It’s raining and my clothes won’t dry indoors!

I guess it happens everywhere. But my experience from Lesvos has taught me that, if it starts raining, oh, you can be certain that it won’t stop for at least the next few days. If my clothes are caught hanging to dry on their line outside during this humid time, you can foresee the rest. But if I leave them to dry inside, they may well take even longer to reach their rightful place inside by drawer! I recently wanted to wear one of my favourite sweaters. It had been hanging there to dry for at least a week on a drying rack Garret has lent me months now– I doubt he wants it back. I grabbed it, only to find that its hood was still moist! I threw it back to its place in disgust and hatred. Go to hell, humidity.

30. Losing progress in games.

Power cuts. Ancient game design. Human mistakes. “Retry” instead of “Save”. Forgetting that “this game doesn’t have autosave”. A patch destroying the previous versions savegames. Glitches and Blue Screens Of Death. Blue Screens of Death. Screens of Death.

Death.

Loss of progress in games, you’ve sent many good hours of life’s charms to gaming purgatory, to the nether-realm of human entertainment. You’ve made many a player blind with rage, unable to accept that their efforts and pain have only resulted in a mockingly not-up-to-date version of their save files. You’ve destroyed vast amounts of perfectly good faith in an equally good game, sent it down the drain, never to return, never allowing the player to give the perfectly good game another chance due to pure frustration. It’s the synonym of amnesia for gamers, the very meaning of oblivion.

If I could, loss of progress in games, I would slap you till your cheeks were raw and your voice not fit to cry for help.

 

…to be continued…

http://cubimension.net/blog/?p=1275