Sophie Koustas '96
2007 marks eleven years since I graduated from UNH, and nine years since I left the U.S. to live in Greece. The journey was, and still is, an interesting, educational and difficult one.
It all started with my curiosity to see how life is lived in Greece. The myth and the reality are different for every single one of us. The truth is that I probably wasn’t prepared for the Greek mentality even though I was brought up by two wonderful Greek parents who taught me that hard work and faith in myself would help me achieve my dreams. What they hadn’t realized was that the overall system had changed since my father left Greece as a 13-year-old to “live the dream” in the U.S. fifty-something years ago. Unfortunately, I had to face a system that is mostly based on “who you know” – politically speaking, and a culture that in most cases is not familiar with the word “meritocracy.”
During my nine years here in Larissa, a city centrally located in Greece, I have worked as a public relations officer, event coordinator for the Municipality of Larissa, political campaign manager, music teacher, translator, and English tutor. I have had the chance to work with energetic, hard working and wonderful individuals with whom I shared the vision of making the city we live in better. Through my positions I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit other European countries - most of the time within the framework of a European educational project – and to meet a lot of interesting people. I have visited Ireland, Austria, Spain, France, Cyprus, Italy, Turkey and Poland, just to name a few. I have also been involved in creative activities such as founding a music theater group, hosting an English-speaking radio show and being chief editor for a local magazine.
At times I ponder where the years went. I feel very fortunate to have had the ability at UNH to study international affairs together with music. My Dual Major in International Affairs, in combination with my personal experience, provided me the proper “intellectual gear” and helped me learn to seek, understand and respect the cultural differences that I have encountered in my life journey so far.
The journey, as I said, has been fascinating and not easy. But then again isn’t that what life is all about? Every time I am ready to pack my bags and come back to the States, another opportunity arises to keep me here. So, I am still waiting to face the next challenge. Until then, I will be looking forward to sunny weather, beautiful beaches, traveling and keeping in touch with the wonderful people I have met.