This post is by Anthony from Positive World Travel
The warmth of the sun showers my body and the breeze runs across my face, for a moment I feel almost content, peaceful lying on the fresh grass.
I slowly lift my head and open my eyes only to be hit with an overwhelming sense of dizziness and the sunlight piercing my vision. I unsteadily rest my throbbing head back down on the grass and close my eyes, shutting out the unforgiving sun.
No sooner than shutting my eyes, I am getting shook by an unknown force with somebody yelling my name repeatedly. ‘Anthony. Anthony. ANTHONY! What the f**k are you doing? You were meant to be…’
The place is Ios.
A Greek island in the middle of the Mediterranean and I was working for a season as a chef in one the restaurants. I had always wanted to work overseas, so when the job arose for me there, I quicklyreorganisedmy life in Australia and boarded a plane shortly after.
It was the perfect lifestyle. Ios is a place where people go to party, make love, lose themselves for a few days and then hop to the next island nearby. It is a destination of debauchery- a mentality of anything goes. What you usually wouldn’t get away with in your own country, you probably can in Ios. I guess you could say,
‘What happens in Ios, stays in Ios’and for a guy in his mid-20’s it was like heaven on earth.
The job was quite easy. I worked 6 days a week and didn’t start my shifts until 10am each morning so it gave me time to swim down at the beach or get rid of a hangover I accrued from the night before.
Drinking and partying each night does take its toll though. On many occasions my fellow co-workers and I would go and hide in our rooms-just so we could escape a night of having to go out!
Sure it was an unbelievable and crazy lifestyle for a week or so, but after 3 months you just need some down time.
Know your own limits and when enough is enough – You need to recharge your batteries.
Hands grab my shoulders and force me to wake up. Finally I open my eyes and I am met with the face of a laughing bald man. My brain kicks into gear and I realize that it is my bar manager Matt standing over me, telling me I am late for work. Where the hell am I?
The biggest challenge about working overseas is getting used to being away from friends and family and also learning how employment works in a different environment and culture.
On this occasion I was overseas on a solo journey throughout Europe and sometimes it is hard, when you really need someone to talk to or someone that just knows you.
These hardships though were far outweighed by all the unforgettable times I spent with my co-workers and new friends on the island.
Working as an expat on a small island is a bit like working in a small country town. Everybody knows everyone and nothing is secret! The positive side to that is your friends become your family.
I am still extremely close with many friends that I made during my season in Ios and keep in contact with them regularly.
While I was in Ios, it wasn’t about partying all the time and I would often travel to the neighboring islands and visit thousand year old ruins and churches.
History is etched into every corner of these small islands and many elders still have a belief of the mythical gods and of the ancient worlds.
It was not only the travellers I met that enriched my life, but more importantly the local people-teaching me lifelong lessons, some of which still bring a smile to my face today.
Matt helps me to my feet and I stand up groggily looking around and recognize my surroundings. Why the hell am I at a bus stop in the middle of town? Why does my mouth taste like Licorice? Matt tells me he and some of my other mates have been scouring the town for hours looking for me plus, I was supposed to be at work 3 hours ago!
Flash backs of the night before flood my memory and I remember sweaty bars, shots of ouzo, dancing on bar tops and eating greasy yuros with my co-workers. Matt just laughs, filling in all the blanks from the remainder of my night-reminding me of things I would like to forget. ‘Come on mate’, he says ‘Time to go to work’…
Now while this experience may not seem like it’s for everyone, that’s not the point. The point is working as an expat is so unlike working in your own country.
Cherish every experience-the good, the bad and the ugly. Make the effort to meet and develop friendships, people make the place and having relationships with will make your time away that much more fulfilling.
I groan as my body aches and I straddle Matt’s rusty motorbike. He takes off at lightning speed and we bump and jolt our way back to the restaurant making the throbbing in my head even worse.
Being an expat on an island has its benefits I think to itself. Free shots are good at the time and great friends to party with all night long, but it doesn’t offer you a cure for a hangover from hell and having to work for another 8 hours in a hot kitchen.
‘Oh well’, I say to myself with a smile, ‘This is Ios’.
More Resources for the Greek Islands
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Co-founder of Positive World Travel, Anthony is on an indefinite journey taking videos, photographs and writing articles to share with the world, showing others long term travel is the ultimate lifestyle to live. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.