Planning the future
In a country of traditions and family values, making plans for the future is not necessarily something people like to spend a lot of time on. Previous generations of Spaniards often saw the church and the family decide their life path for them. Increasing individualisation and diminishing attachment to catholic values now force young people to make more choices than ever. A good reason to ask people what they think they will do in five years from now.
I?aki (30, photo) has been working in a family company for the last seven years. He joined the company right after graduating in Business Administration, and so did his brother. The family company manufactures high-end bathroom furniture and employs 40 people. I?aki and his brother help their father run the company.
..is hosting travelers at home because he himself has got no time to go traveling
I?aki tells me about the difficulties of working in a family company which I presume are quite typical for Spain as a whole. While the older generations have experience and contacts, younger generations have more of an appetite for change and are eager to search for new opportunities. Business leaders in Spain are often accused of using money for fun projects, like traveling to far away places under the pretext of setting up export operations.
I?aki assures me that his father is not following that pattern, but that he is nevertheless very selective in the efforts he spends on new technology. His father is very hesitant about selling products over the internet ? a project that I?aki would be happy to launch. Exporting is another such `new` project that I?aki has under investigation.
I?aki is satisfied with his life as it is today and does not foresee any major changes in the next five years. He will keep working for the company as long as it suits him, he is not looking to get married or even find a girlfriend. I?aki is happy to feel stable in his job and is enjoying his spare time on hobby projects like photography or getting to know foreign cultures.
Lengthy holidays are unfortunately not part of his job. Instead, he and his Italian flatmate Simone are hosting many international visitors at his place through CouchSurfing. This service allows subscribers to apply for accommodation at other people`s places for free. `I can`t travel now, but I do want to meet people and practice my English, so I am inviting people to my place instead of going to theirs`, I?aki says.
Another thing that allows I?aki to relax is the fact that he owns an apartment. Buying property is considered very important in Spain and many people prefer to stay at home rather than rent a place. Having a place of your own is considered a very important step in life. In today`s Spain, some may even consider it more important than getting married. It is also a very popular subject of conversation, and many young people complain that the estate market is almost inaccessible to people who want to buy their first apartment. And so they often stay with their parents until the age of 30.
Buying a house also implies that people commit themselves to the region of their choice and to their working life. It stands for stability and security, values that rank high in Spanish society. Once this desirable status has been reached, people will think more than twice to do anything that does not comply with the ordinary.
Roben (29) has not yet bought a house but does live on his own. He has lived in different places. Originally from Galicia, he moved to Zaragoza to pursue a musical career. When he decided that he wanted to do something different, which is something quite uncommon in Spain, he moved to Le Mans in France to learn how to repair musical instruments. He is now using that skill in his own small instrument repair shop. Contrary to the tradition, he is renting a place. His project for the next five years is to make his business a success, and to settle down a bit. According to the way things go.
Spanish people have to choose their future career at an early age. Working life in Spain is pretty much one-way traffic with no interchanges. Your area of studies will be your area of work, and your area of work will be your area of work up until your pension. Changing careers or taking sabbaticals are hardly advisable. It is neither desirable nor very well-perceived by future employers or even by your own parents. Instead, people who want to act crazy should do so before they start their working career and even then, have a `sellable` excuse for it. Also, exchange programs at Spanish universities may be popular to students coming to Spain, only a handful of Spanish students take the opportunity to study abroad for a year.
Virginia (22) would be happy to take the risk of going away for a year or two when she graduates in chemistry. With her specialisation in nanotechnology, she hopes to find a first job in the United States to do chemical research in a lab. After doing some scientific research, she hopes to use her experience workingin the corporate sector. She is not worried about getting married. Virginia does not have a boyfriend and thinks that even when she turns 27, she is still to young to get married ? a nice contrast with Lithuania where people risk getting nervous if they are not married by the age of 25.
Virginia`s friend Maria (23) is also studying chemistry, but here plans for the next five years are slightly different. She and her boyfriend recently signed for a house that is currently under construction. Maria`s boyfriend is working as a designer, while she works beside her studies. When she is finished with those, she will look for a job in chemistry and decide on her other plans from there.
Nuria (28) also chooses to comply with the Spanish way of living. She has a house of her own, is not married and hopes to have the same job in five years from now. Nuria is a hairdresser and is in the lucky position to be fond of her job. Many Spanish are not. The lack of space on the employment market, combined with the limited career flexibility, oftentimes forces them to learn to like their job, rather than learn to customise their career and simply enjoy what they do.
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