The question of “us” or “them” is pretty much a constant. It doesn’t change. It’s the answer that changes. Take me for example, I’ve lived in three countries, studied in two and had to deal with adjusting to a different daily repeatedly -as gruelling as it sounds getting used to doing the same thing day in and day out-. I’ve learned that the lines between the “us” and the “them” are at best blurry. They start existing when we draw them. Of course, that is not to say that all us are the same, when it comes to experiences, temperaments and emotions; I’ll be talking from my point of view: I am a Greek who has worked, travelled and studied across Europe (currently in the Uni of Dundee) and it can be confusing putting myself together in relation to who I am and where I live. And this isn’t an emotion I am experiencing alone. I’m not just Greek. I won’t be heading back to Greece after I’ve graduated here, and have been away for a while, so I’m technically an ex-pat. Do I need Greece or Greek culture to feel Greek? No, not really. I am nostalgic of it, without a doubt. But living abroad with other people who are living abroad, a migrant among other migrants, you have to face reality: how do you acclimate in this everyday life? The way I see it in myself, and others out here and out there, there are two overt sides. Firstly, people who are trying to mover their home country here, bit by it. By listening mostly to their music, by eating their cuisine and forming a circle of people who in the majority are coming from a similar cultural background as they. They want to reminisce and recollect. Then there is the other side: people who are trying to “translate” their culture to the terms of their new reality. I belong to that second branch and I think the best way to contextualise it, is that my Greekness doesn’t define me, but I define my Greekness. Once outside one’s home country, everything will feel slightly out of touch and out of synch. The ideal for us and them, and everyone would be to find a middle ground between these two sides. There is no right or wrong in the fact that your culture, mine, everyone’s, are interacting with each other, the way we are right now, by having some kind of contact. Knowing where you come from, knowing who you are is a meaningful and wholesome experience. So is realising how interconnected and intertwined most cultures are: through language, food, humour, the Internet and memes, this is what makes us sit around and talk to someone to realise that we have so much more in common than we would have ever thought. It’s not simple, defining who you are with respect to others (people from your own cultural background, people you have just come across or will do). It’s like trying to figure who you are today. You have to do it in relation to whom you were yesterday (someone you hopefully know) and to whom you will be tomorrow (someone you don’t know yet). It’s different for everyone going through this but buoyantly we can all find some other people to assist us in defining part of ourselves.
By Thanos Kyratzis