- -  Day # 110  + +

EU > Spain > Murcia

Social values

Murcia, ES (View on map)

Already within the first ten countries I have visited during this trip so far, I have found major differences in the way parents raise their children. In Scandinavia, parents teach their offspring how to live an independent life. In Spain and Portugal, kids are raised to behave as social human beings who seek each other`s company for the sake of being together.

Gabriel (21):

..will be a professional actor within a few years from now
In the Northern part of Europe, education focuses on teaching people how to make a living, how to face challenging situations without having to recur to other people or institutions for each tiny service. Technical abilities and measurable skills are very important. Respect in these countries refers to not disturbing other people if they have not explicitly asked for assistance. Some people even enjoy silence better than vivid conversations ? regardless of whether they are alone or in company.

Socialising in Spain
Spain and Portugal are fairly different in that respect. Social skills are valued higher than independence. Silent people are considered `different` and introverts risks being seen as almost anti-social. If you are not familiar with the art of social expression, you will be regarded with suspicion for other skills and intentions as well. To many people, having arguments may not be the best thing in the world, it`s nevertheless better than being alone or lonely.

These differences to a big extent explain why Finns and Swedes are on average much younger when they leave their parental home, while Spanish youngsters may easily feel comfortable living with their parents until the age of 30. Rather than being kicked out of the house at a certain age, they would need an excuse to move out if they wanted.

Many youngsters however do find such an excuse when they start studying, even those who see chances to do that in their own city will often be happy to stay at their parents` place. It may only be a temporary excuse, because if they don`t find a partner or a job after finishing their studies, they may just as easily return home to live with their parents again. Regardless of where you live, you may expect your parents to pay for your studies. Rosa (26) did not follow that rule. She started working at the age of 17 as a waitress, and continued working and living on her own throughout and after her studies. She now works as a writing journalist.

First jobs
Gabri?l (21, photo) does not live with his parents either. He is studying to become an actor. In the meantime, he is already working as an actor as well, gaining experience in the field. Gabri?l had his first job as a beach life guard in Lamarina ? a summer job that produced about 600 euros per month. He is making enough money to live without the support of his parents.

Carmen (24) is working full-time as a sales woman in a small shop selling household appliances. She lives at home and is not thinking of finding a place of her own before the age of thirty. Her parents do not require her to contribute to the household budget, allowing her to save some money for the future. Her first job, at the age of 16, was to be a waitress. She wanted to save money to go to Canada, but had to double a year in school and ended up not going.

Azahara (23) studied Tourism but only started her first job at the age of 20. At the time, she worked in a small hotel with 15 rooms. In the meanwhile, she has learnt more about the industry and she now works in a much bigger hotel in Barcelona. During her study, she was happy that her parents allowed her to concentrate on her studies by providing financial support. Her friends enjoyed the same service from their parents, a pattern that seems to be quite common in Spain: to first concentrate on studying, then on working, without mixing the two. Apprenticeships organised by school are therefore quite rare and many youngsters end up entering the grown-up labour market without any working experience.

`People who intentionally choose to gain experience before that time are often limited to jobs in the hospitality sectors, to providing some teaching to fellow or younger students or to do voluntary work. McDonalds is quite a popular employer, because more than small private companies, they will allow you to work when you want instead of when they want you to`, says Sylvia (16).

For the same reason, summer jobs are more popular than temp jobs throughout the year. There is more demand in personnel, and summer jobs are less likely to interfere with studies. Obtaining a diplome definitely ranks higher in importance than gaining some practical experience in kind of a job that is moreover likely to be considered as irrelevant to a future career anyway.

Unemployment under graduates or school-leavers is rather high. Even less so than in Scandinavia, a diplome serves as a coupon to get a job. Knowing the right person is more important. High demand for jobs and a considerably smaller supply means that competition can be fierce. In the hospitality branch, Argentinians are generally accepted as hospitable and qualified for the job, but will accept lower salaries.

Friends of friends of friends
In most other job areas, Spaniards compete with each other. Although vacancies are published in newspapers and on the internet, many people depend on social connections to be allowed a first working experience. And social connections are created during random social interactions that may seem trivial at first but may end up being vital for the course of one`s career or even life.

Making friends is an important way of having access to more friends and from there on, even more friends. And since many people like socialising, they elegantly combine what they like with what they need. All of that results into the pleasant stereotypes of the Spanish being extrovert party-lovers who do their best to make others enjoy their company.

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