Please welcome a guest blogger, Mr. George Christodoulou from onetravel.wordpress.com
As Michael has stated many times, you never know for sure where or when a short-term employment opportunity will unexpectedly appear. For me it happened on a visit to Cyprus that morphed from a brief pleasure trip into a working vacation. My initial plan was to go for a holiday, but I ended up falling in love, finding a job, and extending my stay to six months. The friendly people and the gorgeous sights grabbed my attention and would simply not let go.
Cyprus is filled with both natural beauty and old-world charm. I spent the majority of time living and working in the picturesque village of Treis Elies in west-central Cyprus. This tiny town is surrounded by mountains, vineyards, hot springs, fruit arbors, and wildflower trails. Near the end of my visit I spent about one week seeing other parts of the island and found that its tourist regions are, like most Mediterranean destinations, crowded, noisy, and similar to other island getaways. Therefore, I spent most of my time in the regions surrounding Treis Elies enjoying hikes along high mountain passes, long walks through lush orchards, and leisurely meals with friends and family.
Before I went to Cyprus I had been living in New York. It was a tough employment year, and I needed a break from the stress. I had been a marketing consultant as well as a part-time language instructor teaching an after-school Greek class in the city. In Cyprus, I would often while away the hours in my relative’s coffee shop enjoying the sun as it peered through the makeshift grapevine “roof.” One day a man walked onto the patio and took a seat next to me. He was the director of a program in the local school that taught English to children in the immediate area. After telling him I was a part-time Greek teacher he offered me a position because of my background in teaching a second language.
Overall, that six month working vacation was an eye-opening cultural and social revelation. Even though I grew up in a home with Cypriot parents, I was fairly ignorant of the culture and mores of my ancestral homeland. My parents had been in America for about ten years before I was born and had started the process of acclimatizing to American norms and behavior. My Cypriot background, like those of many second-generation immigrant children, was rapidly fading. Spending a few weeks lounging on a beach could not begin to eliminate that cultural ignorance, but a six-month working vacation certainly would. The people of Treis Elies, especially the children, took me in and taught me a great deal about their world, a world far more relaxed and tightly knit than the stressful, anonymous life of a megalopolis like New York. It was as if I had been transplanted from a large open forest into a tiny garden where everyone shared the same space. Ultimately, as a teacher it became more about what the students were teaching me of Cypriot life than about the English lessons I was giving them.
Sadly, after six months the program closed, and I decided to head back to America. However, that working vacation experience and my memories of this trip will stay for a lifetime.. I return to Cyprus every so often when I want to relax and see friends and family. I currently work for OneTravel (a company offering Cheap Tickets) as a travel writer using my life experiences as inspiration for my articles.