Katerina Patrikarakou, 30, is a businesswoman who returned to Greece from London to deal with a family company that had fallen on hard times. "I'm staying at a friend's house because I can't afford rent," she says. "I can't find a job because I'm managing this indebted business and sorting its affairs." She watched the protest movement grow in her country as the Greek government imposed austerity measures to deal with its huge foreign debt. She joined in the marches almost as soon as she got back. She spoke to TIME's Joanna Kakissis in Athens. Here is what she said:
When I go to a protest I go individually, meaning I never go with a particular bloc. I'm not involved nor participate in any party or union. I always hear about the protest and different meeting points through online media and especially Twitter. I usually meet with my friends, take the metro and get off at the nearest available station. During the recent protests, that station was Monastiraki. We get off there and start walking toward Syntagma Square [in central Athens, bordering the Parliament]. We stayed there as long as possible. The main objective was not to leave Syntagma, even when the police attacked with tear gas. We also always tried to keep calm, because causing panic is what can make things even worse and more dangerous.
Most of my close and real friends are at the protests with me. So we are all supporting and looking after one another. We have a common understanding of what's happening and what we need to do. For the rest of them that do not participate (and not because they actually can't) I don't really care for what they have to say. I do what I believe in.
For me, it's also really important to take as many photos and videos as possible and post them online so that people can see what actually happens during the protests. A photo, posted online on the spot, tells only the truth. Traditional media rarely do. So I try to take as many as possible and from as many different places and incidents. So my phone is something I never leave behind along with my mask, glasses and Maalox spray bottles [to help deal with the effects of tear gas].
During a protest day, I never arrange anything else, because you can never know how the day will progress. You might end up staying at Syntagma or elsewhere for the whole day. It is really intense, and you only want to share it with people that can actually understand you. And if they are not there, they usually can't. So I don't really pay attention to anything or anyone else or what they have to say for that matter.
So far, I haven't felt any actual fear. Although I have run and been teargassed a lot, I haven't actually feared for mine or my friends' lives and well-being. Yeah, my adrenaline has reached a high, but no fear yet. I am pretty sure however, that if I had lived through the June 29 protest, I would have feared for my life, as most of my friends did.
It is true that protests are really exciting and bring your adrenaline to an all-time-high. However, I would prefer to live in a country where no protest would be necessary, and I'm sure I'd find the same excitement elsewhere. Nobody goes to the protests for the excitement alone. That's a by-product that comes with a high risk too.