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What 9 Ordinary Greeks Want You To Know About Them

As Greece's economic crisis captures global attention yet again, BuzzFeed News went around its second largest city, Thessaloniki, and asked regular Greeks one question: What do people outside of Greece who see news about the debt crisis not understand about you?

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Myrto Tsirogianni, 24, Journalist and waitress

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"Many people abroad think we don't try enough to overcome the crisis, but they don't understand that they don't leave us much of a choice ... we have to live with nothing. We're trying hard and make nothing. It's more difficult for us than they can imagine.

Young people like me, we want to have a future here in Greece. We don't want to have to go abroad to get whatever work we can, but too many of us have to. I just finished school to be a journalist, but there are no jobs in Thessaloniki for me."

Christos Karipidis, 45, Firefighter

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"We don't have the resources we need. There should be 80 people working in my fire department in order for it to work properly, but right now there are 50.

Tonight, we have six people working for the entire city center. Six. For 750,000 people."


Evi Giannaki, High school English teacher

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"Our life is difficult here in every aspect. I have a lot of friends who are now unemployed, or who make very little money. And I feel bad, because I feel privileged among these people – my friends, my students, even my husband, who owns a taxi and has a hard day every day. It affects all levels of relationships.

There is a feeling among us Greeks that we can make it. This is good. But I don't know how far that can go. I can make it. I have my job, a salary, I don't have a loan. But I don't know if I can be happy if my friends can't make it, if my students can't make it. We are not alone in Greece. I don't like to have hungry students.

I want a good life. I don't want survival."

Panagiotis Bozeis, 75, Pensioner

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"The situation is very difficult, but I'm an optimist. It will be okay. We have a deal now. I think – I hope – that it will be okay."

Doina Tempeanu, 42, Glassware shopkeeper

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"One problem many don't realize is that with the banks closed, there is no physical change. The banks only give 20 euros and 50 euros bills. If you give me 20 euros, I can't give you five or ten back. I don't even have enough coins. This is a very big problem.

I also feel afraid, because I have lived this once before. I lived through a revolution in Romania. I hope it doesn't happen here in Greece. When people can't eat, when everything is taken from them, what do they have to lose? My coworker and I stay here from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. We just sit here and look at each other. We may not be able to survive. Everything is up in the air, and when you don't know what's coming, there is no stability.

If it gets worse, there will be chaos."

Chryssoula Papadaki, 35, Clothing store owner

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"We are trying to stay afloat.

Lately it has become common, unfortunately, to have no customers all day. We used to have a chain of six shops before the crisis, and now we're at two. We can get our optimism back if things slowly get better, but to tell you the truth, we don't meet our expenses right now. Clothes are a luxury for people at this point. And after five years of crisis, there isn't much strength left."

Alekos Panagiotopoulos, 50, Fish market salesman

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"Yes, it is very difficult now, but in a year, we'll be past this. I think we'll get over the crisis. When the banks open it will improve. Things will be normal, money will start changing hands, and it will be better. I don't think we lost with this agreement, I think we won."

Lefki Mararitou, 45, Salumeria owner

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"People here cannot live the way Europe and America want us to. They don't understand anything about Greeks. We're different. We lived a nice life here, and maybe they were jealous. But these regulations Europe is imposing on us are unsustainable, and now it'll get much more difficult. People can't buy anything. We have to raise our VAT tax on goods from 13% to 23%. All the stores will close.

There will be a war one day, and you'll remember me."

Alexandros Sourbantis, 30, Bartender

Lilah Raptopoulos for BuzzFeed News

"People know that Greeks are not lazy in general. You can't be lazy if you work 15 hours a day. This is not laziness.

Since the banks have closed, business has gone down, but not in the amount you'd expect. I don't know if that's good or bad. I don't know if people understand completely what they're going through or not. It might be ignorance about the situation, it might be denial. It's a little bit worrying. But for as far as my business goes, it's good.

My customers are middle and upper class, but it's all relative. If you make around 1,500 euros per month (USD 19,500 per year], you are privileged right now in Greece."

Note: Some of the interviews were conducted in Greek and translated into English.

Lilah Raptopoulos is a journalist based in London.

Contact lilahraptopoulos at

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