Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Easter in Kalamata.

Πάσχα στην Καλαμάτα

To live in Greece is a thing. But to live Easter in Greece is another thing. If you like celebrations, you will probably love to celebrate Easter in Greece, and each city has its own way to write it in your memories. In Kalamata, city of the dance, even Ήφαιστος (Hephaestus) God of the Fire is probably in admiration by looking his humans dancing with homemade fireworks, and also afraid to see Judas burning everywhere. In Kalamata, city of the Black Olive, even Διόνυσος (Dionysus) God of the wine should be jealous not to be able to celebrate by eating the delicious Greek food. In Kalamata, city of the Kalamatianos Dance, even Τερψιχόρη (Terpsichore), God of the Dance would give everything to be a woman and dance with people in Kalamata during Easter. In Kalamata, city of the mountains, even Άτλας (Ok, no need translation for this) God who cares the Earth, is quaking face to the homemade explosives. If you want to feel alive, and you want to remember that every days is an unique day, come in Greece and learn how to celebrate in the best way the Easter week.

Καλό Πάσχα!

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The famous Lablebi recipe!

Here’s a quick Tunisian recipe for one of the most famous Tunisian dishes: Lablabi, (or chickpea soup, for some). It’s warm with plenty of nutrients, making it an ideal dish for the coming winter.

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan with medium heat, adding a few ounces of onion and garlic.
2. Cook and stir for around 6 minutes, until you see the onion and garlic softened.
3. Add cumin, coriander and saffron, cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes, until you can smell the spices.
4. Stir in the harissa – the spicy red sauce –
5. Add the chickpeas and boil the ensemble gently, then cover the pan with a lid, letting it cook for around 10 minutes at medium temperature so the flavors develop.
6. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
7. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water, boil it gently and add the white vinegar – crack each egg into a saucer then add them, one at a time (one egg per plate).
8. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, then carefully remove each of them and place them on kitchen paper to drain the excess water.
9. Fill approximately half of each bowl,  with broken pieces of bread.

10.  Some people also add an additional egg to each bowl, sprinkle over some french coriander, capers and almonds. You can also add a a little tuna to make it extra tasty. Serve with extra harissa and sliced lemon to the side.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

5 reasons why... 

I like yoga

Yoga, it’s pretty trendy these days isn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to move for horribly immaculate photographs of beautiful people doing perfect yoga poses on impossibly sandy beaches. This trend makes me feel a little sad sometimes, because to me this actually reduces people’s understanding of yoga. In fact it misses the point.

For me yoga is a safe haven from scrolling down your Instagram feed one too many times, knowing that -yeah you’re pretty bored of staring at your best friend’s cousin’s puppy eating a purple ice cream made from lavender flowers- but somehow you can’t stop. 

I’m not here to convert anyone to yoga, because I know for many it’s just a load of new-age hippy bullshit. If you feel this way I won’t try to change your mind. I will simply share my feelings with you.  

Here are five reasons why I like yoga. 

1.  Connecting with my body

I’ve spent a fair chunk of life sitting behind a desk –studying, working or typing on a laptop. Coupled with that when growing up I was never a “sporty” person. I never felt like I had strong physical skills or competitive abilities. 

By doing yoga, by stretching, moving and listening to my body I actually began to feel better about all parts of myself (not only my mind or my emotions). I realised how easy it is to become disconnected from my body.  Not disconnected like my body is a separate entity! Disconnected like I’m not using it, not feeling it, not knowing what it needs. Doing yoga has helped me to feel a part of my body, to get to know it better. 

2. Calming my mind

The practice of yoga is designed to encourage inner peace through breathing, stretching and relaxation.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we live in a pretty hectic world. We need to do lots of things, do them quickly and make them happen NOW.  We are expected to be constantly social, always responding to friends, family and colleagues. We’re not really “switching off”, checking our phones whenever and wherever (thanks Shakira). On top of that we try to keep in touch with the news, where we hear about the wars and crises that many countries now find themselves in. I certainly feel affected by these things and have experienced feelings of worry, anxiety and a struggle to live in the present moment.

Because it is relaxing, because a sense of peace is one of its main aims, when I go to a yoga class I feel like I’m entering a tranquil space. It’s a place where I’m allowed to focus solely on the moment in front of me. I slow down, clear my mind and begin to feel calmer.

3. Freedom from my ego

Sometimes I find myself comparing myself to others around me thinking they’re cleverer, more skilled, more accomplished than me. Sometimes I judge myself, telling myself that I should be doing this better, that I shouldn’t have done it that way, that I should have achieved more success. Sometimes I think I’m very important, that my needs are the priority above everyone else’s. Yeah I’m the centre of the universe don’t you know? 

The philosophy behind yoga (which is based on the “8 limbs ” or guidelines for life) encourages you to be aware of your ego and to try to manage it. It is an individual practice where you follow your own path of development, not in competition or comparison with anyone else.

Of course, going to a yoga class is usually motivated by ego. We want to develop ourselves, to seek improvement. However what I’ve found is that repeating practices in an environment where there is no high expectations and no emphasis on success or higher goals has helped me to feel free. 

When I’m there I start to see how my self-esteem and self-importance dictate my thoughts and dictate my actions. This actually gives me a sense of freedom because I start to realise that there is more out there than my stupid thoughts about whether I’m really good at this or that. This lets me be kinder to myself and by extension kinder to others around me.

4. Giving me “tools for life”

It sounds cheesy but yoga has genuinely given me practical tools for life. I’ve learnt breathing and meditation techniques, postures and exercises that I can use anytime, anywhere to unwind. If I’m feeling anxious, low or muddled I can take 10 minutes out to do one of these things. Afterwards I feel more peaceful and more in touch with myself (I’m not talking about touching myself by the way, just about a little meditation!). 

This doesn’t make my problems go away. It does however give me the ability to understand them, and to tackle them more easily. Indeed many studies have shown that practicing yoga or meditation everyday can help people to feel content in their life.

5. Having fun, meeting new people

With a lot of interests they grow when you share them with other people. With yoga this is certainly the case. Sharing my love for yoga with friends has increased our bond. We can discover good practices together, discuss our experiences and feelings we’ve felt. It’s also been a good way to meet new, like-minded people.  Not only that but doing yoga with others fun. It teaches me ways to express myself and to be playful.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My EVS on arrival training experience…
On arrival training - something what every volunteer has to go through. After one month in Greece our turn came and we were at our road to Athens. There were some things which really made me happy about that trip – the perspective of seeing Athens, meeting new people and one whole week without cooking. With enormous enthusiasm I packed my bag pack and got into the bus. I was so excited!
Did I like the training? Sure. I didn’t expect something special, to be honest I was sure it would be boring. Fortunatelly, I was wrong. I spend very intensive week, I had no time to be bored. Days were full of activities, everything was balanced in perfect way and I really admire trainers for ability of trainers to managing so big group of volunteers. Despite my previous fears I learnt new things -  from methods that educators used and from experiences of other volunteers.
 However the most important part of the training were people. I met many interesting and crazy persons and I spent amazing time with them in Athens. One of the most unexpected meeting was with Gvido – Latvian guy who spent 2 weeks during the summer in Poland precisely in my little hometown. It’’s a small world after all.
Very nice part of seminar was also…. food. Was just amazing! And I am sure that cheesecake from Titania hotel became one of EVS legend.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Weekend in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki…. Oh Thessaloniki <3
After visiting Athens for the on-arrival and mid-term training, I was ready for something else. I really love Greece, but I’m not a big fan of Athens. The city doesn’t make me happy in any way. I have seen other big cities that were also crowded, but still gave you more space to breathe. Athens feels a bit suffocating to me.

With some friends we decided to visit other EVS’ers in Thessaloniki and to explore the city. After our mid-term training we took the train in the afternoon. The tickets are only 12 euros with the youth card and it takes around 5 hours to get there. We stayed with a few EVS’ers that live in the higher area of the city. We were really tired, because of the seminar in Athens but we decided that we still wanted to go out because it was weekend. We had dinner with a big group in a nice taverna and afterwards we went to a small square where a lot of (Erasmus)students were hanging out and having a drink. Later in the night we found a nice and trendy rock bar, where people were actually dancing!! The whole night was awesome.

The rest of the weekend we walked around the city and did some sight-seeing. We had very nice weather, so I spend a long time walking next to the sea. Thessaloniki has a long history and was occupied by different groups many times. I really liked visiting the byzantine churches and there is even a byzantine museum, but unfortunately  I didn’t have time to visit it.
Thessaloniki has the perfect balance between the busy city life and the relaxed Greek culture. The people are nice and feel completely free to express themselves, which I sometimes miss a little bit in Kalamata. Another good thing is the food! <3 There are so many nice taverna’s, coffee bars and even salad bars and it’s all very cheap, which is also very important for us EVS’ers. ;) All by all it is an amazing city… Thessaloniki really feels alive!

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Friday, April 7, 2017


Hello everybody!
We have hope you will enjoy Oka's new video! 

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Mid-term Seminar in Athens

This last week the volunteers from Greece have a meeting in a hotel for the second time, many of us were looking forward to spending time together again. Some of the people we met at the first seminar could not come, but we also met many new people. The first night, in the first seminar we did the party in one of the hotel rooms, in which was not all logically! We were a few of us and we had a good time talking, laughing and knowing a little more. In the days that the seminar lasted, we got up very early to go to breakfast as kings to the buffet, and at 10 am the activities began. One of the activities that I liked best, was when we had to divide into groups and go out to the street to promote European Volunteering Service. We met many young people frim Athens, some of them did not stop, but many of them stopped and started to ask us about who we are, where are we come from, and what we are doing in Greece. Every day we got up early and went to bed late, we wanted to spend as much time as possible together. We went out at night to dance, to have a drink, to go for a walk, ... but always as a very large and loud group of people. Going out together at night was also a challenge since we were 70 people and had to move all that group of people to the same place and at the same time. But the important thing is that every night we go out together and that every day in the seminary we were always together, now we are like a great European family! The moment of the farewell was full of hugs, kisses, sharing phone numbers, facebook profiles and many emotions since many of them we will never see again. But that is something that I do not think about! Every time I will visit a country where I know that there is someone from this great family, I will try to do my best to see each other, because I believe that the friends you make during Seminars at EVS are forever and I plan to keep in touch with everyone! It has been an intense week full of moments that I will always remember, every second, minute, hour and day that we have all spent together is already part of my life.

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