If there’s a place in the world that turned out nothing like what I expected, it’d be Thessaloniki, Greece. For years I thought it’d be a quiet, almost boring city where apart from studying, not much is happening. How wrong I was!
A few months ago I visited Thessaloniki for the first time and all my false ideas about the city were shattered by the end of the first day of my visit.
Everyday Life in Thessaloniki
Forget everything you know about the Balkans, because Thessaloniki is a truly unique place. I have noticed that Greek people don’t live to work, but rather work to live. Well, Thessalonians take this to a whole new level.
Great coffee shops lurk behind every corner and are particularly popular during lunch breaks, which comes as no surprise when you take into account how much Greeks love coffee.
Public transport is well organized and will do the job for just about any workday, but typically for Greek metropolitan cities, motorbikes and scooters are the prefered way to commute. The morning traffic may seem hectic at first, but it’s no match for the responsible ESL teacher.
As you commute, you will pass a few remarkable squares, including The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda on Egnatia & Dimitrios Gounari Street. You will have to get used to constantly being surrounded by cultural sights, as Thessaloniki’s long history has left a lot of heritage.
The Life of Students and Teachers in Thessaloniki
It is here that Thessaloniki truly stands out from the crowd. Recent economic difficulties have led to a lot of demonstrations and social change. As laid back as Greeks are, they are not afraid to speak up, and Aristotle University is there to prove this. Massive banners hang on the facades of every faculty building. Students have even occupied a part of the biological faculty, and often host events and DIY music concerts there.
The American College of Thessaloniki is another great school, where many native speakers find employment. ESL teachers can also find jobs in the various private language schools in Thessaloniki, where they can earn around $1,000.
Teaching English about 25 hours per week is pretty typical for someone working at a private school, leaving plenty of opportunity for making a few extra bucks by working extra hours or giving private lessons.
A Nightlife That Will Surprise You
It was indeed Thessaloniki’s nightlife that caught me completely off-guard. On both my visits I spend a lot of time walking the busy streets of Central Macedonian city. You’d think a city this busy during the day sleeps at night, but you’d be wrong. I doubt that there are many cities with nightlife so busy it causes traffic jams at 4 AM.
Thessaloniki’s streets truly come to life after midnight. Crowds fill Tsimiski and Egnatia street, where the majority of bars and nightclubs are located. A place worth noting is Rover Bar, right in the heart of the city’s nightlife, where you can enjoy the liveliness of Greeks while singing along to the rocky tunes.
Thessaloniki is nicknamed The Co-Capital, but it has a character of its own that doesn’t fall behind Athens. If you are young at heart, you will fall in love with Thessaloniki and its many faces. You can easily fit in a trip up the historically interesting White Tower, a nice Mediterranean meal out, a walk around the city’s port, and a visit to one of the city’s orthodox churches all in one day.
The live and constantly evolving city will keep you interested throughout your time teaching English abroad. Head over to LanguageCorps and find out how you can live and work in Greece!