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The expat experience: How can you stay happy in the here and now?

A new start may be full of new experiences but may also be stressful and affect our psychology. How could we overcome our negative feelings and open ourselves to every new encounter that awaits for us?

Electra Matsangou is a psychotherapist and psychologist from Greece. She grew up in Volos and then moved to Thessaloniki to study psychology. Thanks to the Erasmus exchange program, she first went to the Netherlands in 2008  and completely fell in love with the country and people. In 2010, she moved to the Netherlands to get her Master’s degree in Health Psychology. After completing her MSC, she started training in Gestalt Psychotherapy.

Living in a different country for six years had Electra facing the challenges that most expatriates have to go through, as well as all thoughts and feelings that are common amongst people that live in a new environment. “The Gestalts of an Expat” was an article she wrote while living abroad, for the Dutch e-journal “e-awareness”. She was an expatriate herself, so she knows that sometimes it can be really hard to adjust in a new country, being away from your family and trying to adapt to a foreign work environment.

Her passion about understanding one’s emotional state and working with people, plus the first-hand knowledge of the life of an expatriate made her want to work with internationals who live in Athens.

“I know sometimes it can be difficult to talk to a Greek therapist. Besides, the cultural differences and the language barrier, perhaps it is uncomfortable because you might want to complain about Greece or Greeks!”.

However, having this experience herself and talking about it with her patients made things easier and much more comfortable.

Greece, a multicultural destination

After 6 years in the Netherlands, Electra decided to reunite with her family and start her life again in Athens, Greece. She was also longing to come back to the Greek nature, the islands and the beautiful mountains that make her home country a place of many colors and shapes.

Electra has opened her new office in a coworking space and her aspiration was to consult and support international people that have decided to start their life in Greece. The coworking environment is what she was looking for, as being in touch with so many different people with diverse backgrounds and cultures is very refreshing.

“I like meeting people coming from different countries; it can be quite challenging, as people’s behavior and personalities are influenced by their cultural context, so it takes some effort to familiarize oneself with these contexts. But I personally find it to be a very beautiful and enriching experience. Having my office in a shared environment gives me the opportunity to spend some of my time between sessions with lots of multinational people and talk about politics, philosophy, or just personal stuff. That  boosts my energy and spirit in a whole different level.”

As a psychotherapist, Electra emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with an environment that makes us happy. Athens is a city of  great vibes which can come alive day and night, making it absolutely a place to feel welcome! She also highlights the significance of making conscious choices in the here and now.

“Every choice we make doesn’t need to be always right for us or permanent. We need to revisit our choices in order to see if we still stand by them. Many times as expats we can have mixed or even contradictory feelings and thoughts regarding our experiences or the decisions we need to make and that can be distressful. In those cases, it can be very helpful to reach out to a specialist. Through counseling you can clear things up and get the support you deserve. You don’t have to do this alone!”

We would like to thank Electra for our beautiful chat, you can go ahead and check Electra’s coming workshop and further work on her website.

Social Economy for Social Empowerment

Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) is a relatively new concept of the social economy with an impact on the way of production. In comparison to existing market practices, the SSE paradigm is about starting and growing a business in which all economic activities of production, distribution and consumption are organized horizontally and managed democratically. SSE has the ability to take the best practices that exist in our present system (such as efficiency, use of technology and knowledge) and transform them to serve the welfare of the community based on different values and goals.

Following this idea, many initiatives are starting to adopt the concept in their way of working, and becoming part of this growing community, and, to help on the implementation of it, some platforms were created to help us achieve SSE, one of them is our resident Dock.

The idea behind Dock

The Dock initiative was formed in 2017, inspired by the idea of creating business that have principles of democratic governance and sustainable methods of production. Dock is a platform that was founded to help such initiatives. They focus on supporting the people, enhancing the SSE concepts and on strengthening the initiatives and the overall social economy ecosystem.

 

How it works

Dock is currently connecting and consulting SSE initiatives providing 3 different operations which are: 1. the infopoint, 2. the helpdesk and 3. the forum.

Infopoint, is a free of charge consulting area for getting information and answering questions in SSE matters, while Helpdesk, involves supporting SSE actors at any stage of development, from the initial idea and team formation to initiatives and entities that are already economically developed. Finally, Forum works as a cooperative network linking those actors by sharing a common ground.

They have presence in the European SSE community and collaborate with other initiatives to increase the visibility of the SSE movement. To that end, they also organize events and participate in delegations and interventions like in the organizational team of UniverSSE 2017. They currently participate in the Αttica’s SSE entities Union. At European level, they are members of the pan-European Ripess EU network.

SSE in Greece

In Greece, SSE initiatives are in an early stage, however, the successful launch of such paradigms is becoming a political priority, acknowledging that SSE has the power to mobilize economic and social forces in a cooperative way in order to relaunch the productive model of the country in a more fair and democratic way.

Dock has successfully initiated the “Fruit of Solidarity” campaigns. They provide a networking and collaboration platform between Greek agricultural producers and international stakeholders. “Greenland” action for instance, is a Social Cooperative Enterprise, helping olive oil producers in Kalamata to embrace fair trade practices and expand to international markets. The organisation succeeded in exporting all of their products (more than 20 tones of olive oil and almost 10 tones of olives) in Sweden, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands and Japan in 2017. The importance of this was major if you consider that the producers sold their goods without an intermediate and bargained their own prices, ending up enjoying 60% of the profits which is 20% higher than the one they would have if they were participating in traditional business.

The field has potentials to evolve through the years of 2020 and 2021, giving a new perspective of business and production that values human capital before economic capital and builds a sustainable and socially fair environment.

If your are interest in knowing more about SSE and other business trends, keep it up with Stone Soup Facebook page.

Are coworking spaces designed for a specific type of user?

The answer would be absolutely not! But let’s see why…

When you search the web about coworking spaces, you get the impression that the typical users are freelancers and startups. However, what about the people who are in a transitional phase and are in the mood of trying out new things?

Last week we had an insightful conversation with Virginie Viel. After finishing her PhD thesis in exploring how visualisation can be used to compose music, Virginie decided to take a little break, and experiment how she could artistically express the same message through different human senses (hearing, vision and tasting). It is inspiring listening her to talk about her quest to explore the relationship between the visual sense and music.

“When I think of music, I do it visually. In the frame of a project, I am working on, I am thinking of musical pieces as abstract patterns and colorful sensation, which I depict in pieces of paper as rectangular or circles or other motives and try to express them afterwards into sound and music.”

Virginie is about to obtain her PhD in Electroacoustic composition from the De Montfort University, Leicester (UK). She has a diverse academic background in arts and experimental music and at the moment she is studying baking at EISF -CAP Pâtissier – CAP Boulangerremotely. She also loves to explore new countries and she has lived and studied in France, Belgium and Great Britain. While writing her PhD Thesis, she came to Greece seeking for a new cultural environment. Although she submitted her PhD in October 2018 and passed the viva in January 2019, she is still in Athens as she found a warmth towards the people she encountered here worth staying!

Experimenting on music and baking

Currently, she is engaging in a project that is related to music and baking! She uses music as an inspiration to create pastries and then she organizes tasting sessions. There, rather than the opportunity of eating itself, she invites people to acknowledge their impulsive desire to try the deserts, and then she encourages them to slow down a bit the eating process and feel the actual experience as if it was a wine tasting.

She decided to approach Stone Soup after spotting it online. Her idea was to find a dynamic place with lots of potentials in terms of meeting people, discussing about her project or even discovering some new ones. It is very likely that we will be announcing such workshops in the near future! So stay tuned!

Music workshop

Now, if you are interested in experiencing Virginie’s project or just to meet her, you may attend this music workshop on Sunday 3rd of March, organized by Giorgos Kokkinaris, Giorgos Mizithras and Nikoleta Chatzopoulou. During this evening you will encounter a tasting journey meant to satisfy and surprise your tasting buds as a piece of music does to the ears.

Are you interested to find out more?
You may find here Virginie’s website and have a closer look at her creative pastries here.

Expressing yourself creatively as a way of living

How many of us could say that our profession reflects our passions and our true life calling? You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and you realise you make your living by practicing something that you love as if it was a hobby.

Olga Alexaki feels very lucky waking up every day with such a sensation. She comes from a family of architects and she grew up with an inclination to arts and crafts and the habit to draw anything that came to her mind.

“Because of my family, I was always fascinated by architecture and I could easily picture myself following the same profession, as Ι ended up doing. My aspiration was to give a more modern and creative approach to my personal work based on my expertise and taste.”

During her studies Olga explored her creativity by designing jewelery. She formed a company named “Open that Stone” producing handmade collections of wooden and perspex accessories.

Surrounded by inspiring people

As a professional architect you may find multiple ways to cover your clients’ needs and simultaneously express yourself creatively. The trick is to find the source of inspiration. For Olga this source is the everyday life and that is the main reason she wanted to have an office in a coworking environment rather than a traditional office place.

Olga is working with Iris Papadatou at YOU & ME Architecture, which is based at Stone Soup. According to her, being surrounded by individuals from diverse fields of expertise is really inspiring.

“We like the kind of fun architecture, with playful structures that gives the opportunity to people to feel comfortable and welcome. Operating in a shared environment triggers our creativity and enriches our perspective for our own projects, as we view it as a chance to observe how people use the space, in order to work, to cowork and network.”