I just got back from my own bubble popping expedition in the land they call Spain. Six weeks fully immersed in a culture I naively thought I knew a lot about before I had even stepped on its turf. Now I’m back in the States with a more level head, sangria infused blood, and a better sense of the world. I have plenty of stories that are better suited for barstool.com and plenty of memories that are best suited to take up permanent residence in my memory bank and make themselves comfortable.
What I also have, which seems much more suitable for this forum, are a list of thoughts and notes on Spain’s current economic crisis, the next domino to fall after Greece. Straight from my head to this page in a sloppy, yet enlightening fashion…
1.) The stereotype that Spaniards are lazy-‘live at home with their mother’-beach bums was validated for me by a few people. One person in my memory bank particularly stands out. A thirty year old man who lives with his parents and tried to convince them to pay for his weekend rage session at Ibiza. In America, we make movies making fun of stuff like that.
2.) I quickly learned that generalizing with stereotypes is for ignorant a**holes (yes, I just called myself out). It took witnessing my host mother studying extremely hard almost everyday and attending exhausting classes weekly with hopes of getting certified for a municipal job for me to realize this. Don’t stereotype. People are people and everyone is unique.
3.) People are not happy with their government. They are scared by its corruption and a seemingly oblivious attitude that the country is not in crisis. As a result, marches and strikes are popping up across the country more than zits on a teenagers face before his first prom. A strike by the garbage men in Cádiz had the city smelling like some less attractive destinations in New Jersey. A scarier, more violent strike by Taxi drivers in Madrid had me worrying for the county’s future.
4.) I bet most of you didn’t know that Spain hasn’t even been a democratic country for forty years! I didn’t. Francisco Franco died in 1975, which more or less began Spain’s experiment with popularly elected leadership. This can explain a lot about the political problems Spain is dealing with. You have multiple generations living in Spain who grew up in a dictatorship. With this, the entire country is not wired with expectations of democracy in their lives. They haven’t had the idea that “democracy is best” branded into their brains and emblazoned across their foreheads like we have in the United States. Thus, it’s understandable why many citizens disagree on the size and type of government that’s best for their country. Chevy Chase will try to remind everyone…
5.) People say that Spainiards “work to live” while Americans “live to work”. For the most part, this is true to a degree. Spainiards take long siesta naps in the middle of the day, drink Cruzcampo beer during work, and do everything at the pace of a senior citizen leaving the home to get on a bus for bingo night. When things are going well, this is all well and good. But now that things need to pick up, can Spain re-program itself to put in the extra hours needed to stimulate its economy?
I love Spain, but I’m glad to be back in the United States where we panic over a rainy day in the economy while other countries drown in flood.
What should be done within Spain to improve its situation? Why is it in the position it is in? What should the U.S and other countries do about Spain?