International Office - Aberystwyth University

Routes Lingomap: Politics and Paella!

Education is at the forefront of most parent’s minds in Spain and it’s interesting to see the emphasis they place on the importance of learning foreign languages, in this case it’s English. They see it as a way to give their children opportunities that they didn’t necessarily have whilst growing up and choose to give their children this benefit, especially now that we live in such a cosmopolitan wold. Seeing as most businesses communicate in English, Spanish parents find this an important tool to be able to equip their kids with, in order to get ahead in the world. This is especially important considering the current economic and unemployment crisis which has hit Spain, therefore the next generation needs to have all the advantages possible in order to succeed in the workplace and hopefully if they don’t find jobs in Spain (which is likely considering unemployment rates) then they will at least have the opportunity to work abroad as long as they have a good command of English. With this type of competition from overseas workers, it places even more importance on learning foreign languages in the UK as we need all the help we can get in order to succeed and give us more of an edge in order to be able to work abroad. It’s like being a cake. What would you prefer to buy, a plain sponge with absolutely no toppings or would you prefer to buy a rich, chocolate gateau with buttercream, strawberries and a flake on top? Personally I would go for the chocolate (just because I love chocolate) but it’s interesting to see how this metaphor can apply to your CV, especially when it comes to knowing more than one language, as this would directly enable you to liaise and also work in different countries. Unemployment in Spain is a key issue, similarly like Wales, with many of the younger generation in both countries, choosing the option of leaving home to work abroad as there are better work opportunities and basically more work in general, especially better paid work.

Emigration is really big in Spain. I remember when I visited Norway last summer, I was staying in Bergen and wherever I went, be it the local markets, food stands or within the hospitality industry, all I heard being spoken was Spanish. It became a running joke during that holiday that we were in Spain not Norway, as everywhere we went you could hear Spanish being spoken by most of the workers. We became really curious as to why all of these Spanish would choose to spend their summers in Norway, instead of staying in sunny Spain, as the Mediterranean coast is normally a lot higher on people’s holiday destinations than the cold northern hemisphere. Their responses when we asked, was that they can earn more in the summer months in countries such as Norway where the minimum wage is equivalent to 15 pounds an hour, than they can earn in six months in their own country. There was one man who was working in Norway in order to be able to save up during those 3 months, to pay for a sport’s sponsorship back in Spain. Curiously it’s not just Norway which has become a host country for Spanish workers, if you ever travel to any of the capital cities within the UK, you will wonder, as I did, if you’ve suddenly been transported to a slightly less sunny version of the Costa Brava or Blanca. While it is a great way to be able to practice Spanish around the world, it’s also slightly sad that so many people from this generation are choosing to emigrate, in order to be economically and financially better off. This is why learning languages can be so important, because it not only opens doors for you, in order for you to be financially better off, but it also allows you to communicate with people from other cultures and introduces you to new ways of thinking, such as anything from politics to paellas!

Something else which I passionately believe in and which many Spanish also feel strongly about is animal welfare, specifically when it concerns bullfighting. Unfortunately, although it was banned in Catalonia, it was eventually overturned by the Spanish government due to its important ‘cultural heritage.’ It has been also banned in places such as Valencia, Mallorca and San Sebastian, however due to the Spanish government now making it legal because they value it as a cultural tradition, this ban is no longer relevant. Bullfighting is similar to fox hunting in the UK, due to the unnecessary cruelty inflicted upon the animals and like in the UK, opinions are clearly divided when it comes to deciding whether it should be banned or kept in place, due to its long standing tradition within society. I personally believe this is an issue in both countries which needs to be reviewed, especially as the bull is a symbolic part of Spanish culture, which means that we should treat it with respect, as you would with any other living creature. Unfortunately it´s something that divides the population, with many believing it’s an important aspect of cultural tradition that should be preserved and with others deeming it as a barbaric act, which just prolongs the animal’s suffering. What do you think?

However apart from this I think Spain is definitely a country worth visiting! There are so many provinces, each with their own culture, accent and food that you can never be bored whilst travelling throughout Spain because there is always something new to see and explore! If the beach isn`t your thing, then you can go hiking up the mountains. If hiking isn’t necessarily something you`re interested in then you can choose from two of the ski resorts to visit and if not then there is plenty of culture and history in every village, town or city you go to, that you’ll find there is something for everyone.

¡Buen viaje!

Follow me on Instagram: @em_djones

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