Nine years have passed since the day Eleni Nikoloudi and her husband Panagiotis, along with their two children, decided to leave their homeland, a small town in Serres seeking a better future in Australia.

“I will never forget the day we left Greece. The emotional farewell moments at the airport with our family and friends. The fear of the unknown mixed with the concern for what the future might hold had crept in overshadowing any small sign of excitement and hope that the ticket to Australia could in fact be the ticket to a better life for our children,” Eleni says.

Her reasons behind migrating had more to do with providing her children the opportunity to build a better future than the one they were destined to have back in the small town in Serres. “I just didn’t want to see my children struggle to get a job and work, day and night, just to meet their basic needs. I wanted them to thrive and have the opportunity to make their dreams come true, not just survive day to day. So despite how I felt about leaving our home and our family and friends, I decided I needed to take the leap for the children,”  Eleni says, while conceding that it took her a good three years to adjust to the new life in Australia although her children managed to adapt much quicker than she did.

“I would probably still be struggling to this day if I hadn’t made the decision one day to let go of all my negative thoughts, focus on the present and embrace my new life whilst still keeping my old life’s memories alive and the people back home close to my heart.”

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A new life in Australia

Eleni admits that it took her a long time to adjust to life in Australia, but time seemed to work in the family’s favour.

After completing their education, Eleni’s children, Anna and Sotiris, found employment in their fields of study and settled into a new way of life.

Eleni, on the other hand, decided to use her skills in the kitchen and start her own pastry cooking business from home which took off, exceeding everyone’s expectations.

“Looking back, nine years down the track, I can safely say that the journey from Greece Down Under was well worth it.

Australia has been very good to us and has given our children great opportunities and for which we will be forever grateful but at the same time, I can’t not admit to the fact that there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think of Greece and the people we left behind.

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Serres, the home they left behind. Photo: Wikipedia

Going back home

Eleni still talks to her sister daily.

She says that if there is one thing that she is missing from her life in Australia, it has to be the deep meaningful relationships she had with her friends and family back home.

“I think that’s one thing Australia is lacking. Here, people have been brought up differently and the culture of connecting on a deeper level is not a priority or even something that’s encouraged in their every-day life. In saying that, all our closest family and friends with whom we have a close bond, are back home, therefore, it is also up to us to make a conscious effort to visit as often as we can to spend quality time with our close family and friends,” Eleni says.

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“So, if you ask me when I would like to go home again, I would have to be honest and say – as soon as possible!”