- Life Style
ATHENS — In the shadow of the crisis that plunged Greece into a critical economic situation, young Athenians are concerned about their future. Together, they perceive themselves a sacrificed generation. As the streets of different Greek cities burst into widespread protests against austerity measures, Greek youth attempt to reclaim their right to a secure future.
A few days before the protests, Egypt Independent ventured into the lives of young Greeks in Athens, looking at how the ongoing economic crisis is intersecting with their everyday lives, but also their long-term ambitions to find employment, fight corruption and have a better life. Many share the desire to leave the city, seeing it as the only option amid a largely bleak image that is the future of their country.
Helena is 23 years old, and she still has a year to complete her studies in physical education. She doesn't like her university; she complains about the corruption of teachers. "If you belong to the same party as a teacher, you can pass easily," she said. She is currently seeking a student job, but in vain. At the end of her studies, she would like to move to Crete for a while, where she can find work as a sports educator. Helena is also a member of an association for street dogs, which is a voluntary activity.
Spiros has just completed his compulsory military service in Greece. At 24, he is now seeking a job as a mechanical engineer. According to Spiros, finding a job is not easy without good contacts. He is currently preparing an application for employment with Easy Jet, a budget airline, which would allow him to settle in London. “We don’t really expect the EU countries do anything for us, and the people to blame are here. We don’t have any ambition other than going abroad," he said.
Marie-Stella is 23 years old. She graduated with a degree in anthropology and works in a bar in Athens on weekends for a meager 5 euro per hour; enough, she says, for pocket money. Maria-Stella has decided to continue her studies, but this time in the field of psychology. One day she hopes to leave Greece and work as a psychologist. Marie-Stella takes classes in Italian and Spanish, both to improve her chances of getting jobs but also to open up travel opportunities. She lives with her parents but she would like to live in Exarchia, the anarchist neighbourhood of Athens.
On the walls in Athens, people have scribbled their thoughts in graffiti. Many are against the police as well as the new austerity measures. Other graffiti represents the sign of anarchy. One line reads, “Merry crisis and merry new fear.” This is found all over the walls of Exarchia.
In the meantime, political parties continue to advertise themselves on the walls of universities despite their perceived failure at leading the country and its youth out of the impasse.
6 December is the anniversary of the death of the young Alexis Gregoropoulos, killed in 2008 by a policeman. Gregoropoulos was hanging around Exarchia with his friends and when an argument started with policemen, the latter accused him of throwing rocks and fire bottles at them. Other people in the area said that it was just a verbal arguing and that suddenly a police officer took his gun out and fired at them. The incident caused two weeks of clashes between protesters and the police. Each year, in commemoration of the event, young people gather to express their anger towards Greek authorities. The commemoration exposes how the rift has deepened between police and young Athenians and is only growing with the current wave of violent street fighting.
1 December 2011 was a general strike in Athens to express mounting anger at the authorities. A protest against austerity measures blocked the entire center of the city.
Meanwhile, in the city's pockets, life goes on in coffeehouses and bars.