‘No one told us it would be so hard’

They are young, good-looking and have studied but they spend the best years of their lives indebted to banks and worrying about the future. «No one told us it would be so hard,» these members of the IPOD generation told Kathimerini. Just a few months ago, Corinna managed to get back on her feet and take a breather from her debts. Do not imagine that she did anything out of the ordinary, such as open a business, shop for designer brand names, or trade on the stock exchange. She went to do a postgraduate degree in London. She is just 28 years old. After finishing her studies in the Department of International and European Sciences at Aristotle University, she decided to boost her CV with a master’s in communications. Today, she works for an advertising company for just 600 euros a month. «What can I say? After so much studying, such good grades, this was the welcome I got back in my own country. It’s not the fact that I’m getting less than the basic wage, but that I’m working from morning till night. I can’t do otherwise as I have to pay off the loan I took out,» she confided to Kathimerini. She took out a loan to pay off the two credit cards she used while studying in London. «I realized upon returning to Greece that I couldn’t make ends meet. I owed 1,000 euros on credit cards. I had to get a loan, otherwise the expenses would have accumulated. Now I have paid off my credit cards and still pay 140 euros every month to the bank.» Needless to say, she still lives with her parents and her dream of a doctorate will only come true if she wins a scholarship grant. «I’m afraid for the future. Will I ever be able to earn enough to support myself?» Athena is a year younger and has already worked for three years at a public relations company. Her salary is 660 euros, which she supplements with some private tutoring. «I live with my parents for financial reasons. I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet otherwise. I go out rarely, I buy clothes twice a year, and not expensive ones, and I still owe 2,000 euros to credit card companies. I can manage at the moment because the installments are low, but what if something goes wrong and I lose my job?» Athena would also like to do a postgraduate degree with a scholarship grant, but without minimal security she will not do it. «To get a scholarship I would have to devote three months to studying, at least, and I don’t have the luxury of being able to do that. The state, in essence, is asking me to demand money from my parents. To go back three years and say, ‘Pay up, Mum.’ I won’t do that as my parents don’t have money to spare; they would have to cut down on something else.» She continued: «Even the small things, such as going to the gym, are difficult. They want you to pay for the whole year in advance. It’s tiring to have energy and to have your wings clipped. I’m 27 but I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.» The indebted generation Pantelis, 34, has been married for two years and he and his wife are now expecting a child. «It’s difficult,» he told us. «We are in fact the most insecure, indebted and heavily taxed generation. It wasn’t like this for our parents. My father, for instance, managed to muddle through and build his own house. He later built a holiday home. To me this seems like a science-fiction scenario. Unfortunately, I don’t think I will ever be in any position to give my child something like that.» Pantelis works in a bank. «I have a good salary but there are many expenses. The money goes just like that, especially now with the baby coming, I have to be careful to save and not spend, and that has proved to be the most difficult thing for people of my generation.»