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Once Erasmus, always Thesserasmus

Published by flag-ro Alin Arimie — one year ago

0 Tags: flag-gr Erasmus experiences Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki is the most student-friendly city I have ever lived in. Without too much filler, I will make a short pro-cons list of things that come in my mind right now.


+Perfect nightlife. There is ALWAYS something to do.

+The Greek culture. Tavernas. People hanging out in the night; you can walk at two in the night and you will see people hanging out, drinking a beer or listening to rebetiko. I will not even start writing about the taverna culture, because I could go on for hours. It is one thing that I wished would exist in my country as well. 

+Friendly people, which go out of their way to make themselves understood to you if you don't know Greek. If you speak two words with them in their own language though, they will love you

+Erasmus discounts. Always remember, make your Erasmus status known, because in some places they offer discounts for being an ESN member.

+ESN events. This is the best ESN location that ever existed. For those who don't know, ESN is a student organization which helps you, the exchange student, to integrate in the life of the host country and to befriend fellow Erasmus students. In Thessaloniki, there are three ESN sections, for the main universities - Aristotelous, Makedonia, IHU. The nice thing is, they all work together to bring you the best events and good vibes. When you arrive in Thess, I strongly advise you, put yourself in contact with them via the Fb/Telegram/Wapp groups! You will be forever grateful for it. Don't stay out of the loop!

+Teachers are pretty χαλαρά, they expect you to give a minimum of effort and they otherwise let you enjoy your stay there. 

+Free food at the Aristotle canteen. Theoretically it's only for students of that university. In reality, it is for anyone who goes there. This might change depending on the economical situation of the university, because they already tried to enforce the rules once but they caved in due to student protests.

+I doubt there is a lot of crime in the city. In 6 months, I have never felt threatened or in danger, regardless of the time. Even though police patrols very rarely, I would say it is a safe city. All you have to do is to take care of theft, especially in clubs - coats, wallets got stolen a lot. 

+Thess airport. It connects you to a lot of places. Also you can travel via KTEL (Chalkidikis or Makedonia) to a lot of places outside Thessaloniki without changing buses. The prices are fair and there is so so much to see of Greece. It's an incredible country. Please don't limit yourself to only Thessaloniki if you have the financial means, there is so much to visit. 

+For those outside EU - Thessaloniki is a very accepting place. The people I know have never felt any racism or discrimination towards them for being a different skin colour or ethnicity. Don't even worry about it.

+Low cost of living for students. Try waving your student card wherever you go (museums, buses, ferries), you will get a discount 90% of the time (don't say you are Erasmus though). The rent, food etc. prices are pretty fair and should be covered at least in a big part by the grant.


Thessaloniki is not a perfect city. There are also some bad parts to it:

-The city is incredibly ugly. I will not try to sugarcoat it and a lot of Greeks will be angry at this opinion because it's their own city, but it is true. The lower part of the city, where the city center is located, is full of graffiti (rarely nice one, usually communist/anarchist or protest graffiti, not artistic), is let down, the new building blocks are made in a careless manner and give the impression of a ghetto (go through the city center with streetview and you will understand). There are two nice parts of the city though: the promenade, where land meets water, and also the Ano Poli (upper city), which survived the big fire of Thessaloniki and you can get lost there, around houses with Ottoman architecture, which are well-kept. Very beautiful place, which is unfortunately not enough to save Thess from the "ugly" mark.

-Bad public infrastructure. The metro is still not finished. Buses are a joke, they are overcrowded permanently, the drivers are in disregard to the passengers and drive aggresively. You cannot pay by card in the bus, you have to buy a ticket either at a ticket place or inside the buses there is a machine which accepts coins but doesn't give you the change. 

You will not find the buses on google maps. You can use either Moovit, or their app, OASTH. But please don't do the same mistake as me and count on the timetable. They will be on time for 20% of time. And even when they are on time, there is always a change there will be literally no space for you to enter the bus. It can get that bad sometimes.

-Many protests. They disrupt the already pressured public infrastructure and cause further delays. Sometimes, there are violent fights between the police and protesters. Try to stay away for your own safety, or watch from afar if you are curious like me. Try not to take sides. Remember you're in a different country with a different culture and I wouldn't advise getting very invested in political issues. 

-Be careful at scams. Usually at the promenade, there are people who use multiple tactics to get you to buy their stuff (eg. wristbands), which they tie to you and you are unable to take them down if you are not careful. Then they ask you for money. I observed that if I speak minimal Greek to them when they talk to me, they leave me alone. They want the tourists. 

-Bureaucracy. This is a Greek problem in general. Expect to spend a considerable amount of time waiting for even the most basic things (ex. getting your student card, a residency permit for those outside EU, an AMKA number).

And so, this is Thessaloniki in a couple phrases. Make an informed decision. But if you choose Thessaloniki, you can be sure of the fact it is one of the best Erasmus destinations that exist. 

Places known by any Erasmus student in Thess: To Podilato (free shisha for erasmus if you order smth), Nostos (taverna with live music), Pasha house (another taverna), Auth student club (the free canteen), WE, 8ball, Enola (clubs with various themes).

End tip: When looking for the rent, avoid the ads from this website. Go on Facebook, there is a group called "Erasmus accomodation in Thessaloniki" or something like that. Aim to get something all inclusive (bills included), the closest to Rotunda/Kamara/Egnatia st/Auth as possible the best. Try not to get something very far from the center just because it's cheaper, most people I know regretted this decision. 

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