• Alexandros Plasatis

I came twice to the UK. Once as a student in 1999, and then out of choice, when I decided to leave my country, Greece, in 2005. I was better off in my little hometown by the sea. I had a home, friends, my family, but something was missing. What this something was, I didn’t know at that time, and even now I’m not certain. What I did realise when I arrived here that October evening walking down a street in Portsmouth, is that it felt good looking at the red brick houses with the little front gardens, the orange streetlights, the fog and being myself.

Migrant is the man in the corner shop, the woman who buys the newspaper and the kid who gets the change for an ice cream. Also, the hardworking man and woman, the idle man and woman, the man who is a perfectionist and the other one who always makes mistakes, the one who laughs and the one who sits lonely by his window - looking outside at the passersby, wondering and forgetting and remembering. We all have the migrant inside us. The moment we were born, we became migrants, and we entered this new, strange world, not knowing what it’s all about. Here, we grew up, played, were being taken care of, made friends, made people laugh and try, fell in and out of love, and succeeded and failed.

When we left our first homes, we could not bring much with us, so we brought only the essentials: our music, our languages, our cuisine, our talent, the way we like to dance and celebrate, our dreams, our hopes and our laughter.

And me, being one of those migrants, I enjoy this strange journey so far simply because it’s strange and unexpected. When things aren’t going that well, I read the poem Ithaca by Cavafy - read it one day if you find some time. When I read it, I feel calm, inspired, excited to go on with my journey. And I become more understanding towards others, knowing that no matter where people come from, no matter where they were born, no matter if I think they are good or bad, strong or weak, they are all in a journey, they all travel through real or imaginary borders, looking for their Ithaca, making discoveries along the way. 

Alexandros Plasatis is the founder of The Other Side of Hope, a literary magazine showcasing the writing of refugees and migrants. Follow magazine on Twitter to stay-up-to-date with the release of new issues.