Spain’s Fleeing Talent

Yesterday we held a despedida for one of our friends. He’s off to work in Toulouse. In a group of around fifteen friends he is the fourth to leave (the others are in France and Germany). The rest are looking abroad.

They cannot find work here in Spain. Or at least, not in Andalucía. Once the others started looking en el extranjero, the interviews came flooding in.

What should Spain do about the fleeing of its young talent?

Well, try to benefit from it in the long term.

Traditionally, many people in Andalucía have not needed or had the chance to travel. This is now changing, and the youths of today are being “forced” to grab opportunities that their parents never even dreamed of.

Yet, only a small percentage of those who leave will stay away.

The quality of life – sun, good food and a strong vida familiar – attract the Spanish to return.

If and when they do, they’ll bring their experience, skills and new perspectives to the Spanish job market… and to the next generation.

An interesting suggestion is made by the magazine Emprendedores. In Ireland, incentives are being offered to those who attract investment to Ireland from abroad. What if Spain did the same?

I hope my friends will be back at some point. I also believe that many of those ‘cerebros en fuga’ can and will contribute to Spain’s recovery in the long term.


Words and tears fade away

Perhaps because it’s raining in Sevilla: Today it occurred to me that words and tears have a lot in common. Both can be scarce, powerful and loaded with meaning. On the other hand they can be abundant, corrupt and meaningless.

Words and tears may sometimes flow as continuously and generously as the pouring rain. Yet, they lose all substance when they hit concrete ground, only to eventually evaporate. Even words and tears that break out in a potent storm will not remain visible over time. Mostly, they just simply fade away…

Partly inspired by this song:

Gone Mad with the Wind.

Have you heard the ‘myth’ that the wind can drive you mad? The people who live in Tarifa are supposed to be crazy due to a constant wind known as ‘Levante’.

It hasn’t been scientifically proven. However, many people assert that the wind gives them a headache and makes them feel weak. Others claim it makes them feel angry and sad.

Close you eyes for a second and imagine what it must be like to have strong winds in your face every time you step outside.

I am doing that now and it reminds of those nasty, cold windy-rainy days in England when nature is the enemy and your only protection is a central-heated room…

Or those suffocating, hot summer days in Sevilla when your brain swims in the heat, and clarity is only found in an air-conditioned room.

You see, the concept of “Madness” is relative, and the ultimate question is: How far are our mental and emotional states affected by the weather?

I’m looking outside and I see the palm trees swaying drunkenly. I think I’ll stay inside. Not because of the dull, grey sky of course, but…perhaps I’d do something ‘crazy’?! 😉

I’ll study… mañana.

Spaniards are famous for postponing everything to ‘mañana, mañana”. Is this fair? Hmmm. They are generally more relaxed and less obsessed with ‘their careers’ than the British for example…

However, times are changing and with ‘la crisis’ it’s productivity or loss. Spaniards work for some of the longest hours in Europe, but they are not up there on productivity… Not currently, anyway.

One thing the Spanish do leave for tomorrow is English. El inglés: La asignatura pendiente.  Adults have learned English since they were small but many are embarrassed to say more than “Hello, how are you?”

Spanish TV and films are dubbed, which doesn’t help. But with digital TV and the web 2.0 this is now changing.

Besides, Spanish companies now demand that their employees know English, and many Spaniards want to move abroad to find employment…

Can a ‘mañana, mañana’ mentality survive in our fast-paced, crisis-stricken world? Spain wouldn’t be Spain if, to some small extent, it didn’t :(.

El tiempo vuela…like a Ryanair plane? Let’s hope not!

“Dee de le dee de dee de deee. You’ve arrived at another on-time flight”. YES, we’re alive. Everyone claps. Just a few more minutes until we can escape the dirty, bright yellow seats, and the claustrophobia of a typical ryanair (‘reeyanair’ at Sevilla airport…) ‘experience’…

The Spaniards talk loudly about llegando a casita, la comida de mamá y el frío que hace en Inglaterra, whilst the English mutter quietly about tapas, sangría and ‘getting a tan’.

Both are relieved to arrive, forgetting that nearly a WHOLE day has been lost travelling¡¡Qué ganas de llegar!! It’s a day that’s frequently ‘gone’ for us ‘guiris’ and for Spaniards who live abroad.

But when we wish time away it flies faster than a plane from London to Sevilla. In Spain there’s always something to ‘look forward to’. In the next few months: Semana Santa, La Fería de Sevilla, later el horario intensivo… It is great, however, it often gives me the sense that el tiempo vuela.

In England this year, it will be the same: Easter, the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics… Every time I hop on to a plane, it’ll be close to some sort of fecha importante…

So, the next time I am on a flight, I am going to take a deep breath and not wish it away. I am going to try to appreciate every single day for what it is, and not always looking forward to ‘the next thing’. It is an enormous challenge, but I would really like to think that time CAN be a beautiful, galloping horse, and not, as it sometimes becomes, a tacky, accelerated ryanair plane…

Spanglish: I have 26 years…¿Cuál es mi objetivo?

When a birthday is approaching, we tend to review ourselves. I’m getting old! Am I mature enough for my age? Have I done everything I said I’d do this year? Am I on the right path? How am I going to change? What do I want to achieve? Blah, blah, blah blah…

Our identity suddenly seems to transform. Only, hombre, we have a whole year to get used to it! When I turn 27 I’ll actually be entering into my 28th year… I will ‘tener 27’ years done and dusted. You see, the Hispanics have years and the English speakers are years! The Hispanics separate their innate person and soul from all that they have and are (our old friends ser and estar); The English speakers bunch it all together…

So, ask me now if I’m happy and I would answer “Hmmm depends on your definition of happiness”. Ask me, “¿Estás contenta/feliz?” and I would say, “Sí!” Ask me, “¿Eres feliz?” and I’d reply, “Todavía no”: I have to consolidate myself and grow up a tad more before that.

El mundo es un musical… keep your scripts flexible!

Do you ever feel a bit like you’re in a musical without music? That the people in your daily life are characters in a funny, exaggerated play, each with their own scripts? It’s easier to imagine in a espanglis world where mixture and distortion become creativity, swinging between the unknown and the familiar. In fact, there’s no better way to learn and speak another language… and to live. As Mr Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage”. So we must embrace the role we’re playing (our current ‘character’) and empathize with the other ‘characters’. But OJO, our scripts cannot be rigid. Communication and life require constant editing, directing and producing.

Yet neither communication nor our lives have to be perfect….just enjoyable, shared and meaningful. So, the next time you feel negative about something, try to connect to the musical vision. Picture someone who takes themselves veeeery seriously break out into song, dancing or saying something outrageous. Include yourself in your ‘musical’ but… among the medley  of competing scripts, keep yours flexible!

Ufff ¡qué frío hace! ¿Estarás acostumbrada, no?

Every time it’s ‘cold’ in Sevilla, I know that at least one person will tell me that I am used to the cold as I am from a cold country. Sometimes I smile and nod as a polite English girl would, and I say, “Pues la verdad es que si”…. The majority of the time I screech “¡Estoy en España porque no me gusta el frío!” I suffer in the cold. My hands turn red-blue-purple, I turn antipática; I am more ‘friolera’ than most Spanish people I know. And I miss some good-old English central-heating. Yet, through the cold chill shines a crisp sun that  reminds me daily of why I am here. Darkness makes me a little sad; the Spanish are very privileged with their glorious climate. So, next time someone tells me I’m acostumbrada al frío, I will say “¡Noooo! Estoy enganchada al sol.”

Hoy he hecho ‘footing’… ¡Mira como sé unas palabritas en inglés!

Footing is a tranquilo run. It comes from the word ‘feet’, the parts of the body that touch the ground while you bounce (or drag yourself) along. ¿Tiene sentido, no? No. The English word is in fact ‘Jogging’… To ‘lose your footing’ means to lose your balance. For example: “Dave lost his footing when he was jogging…. and he fell flat on his face.”


Espanglis is a vision for those who sit in ‘no man’s land’. An espanglis person can be a guiri who has tasted the forbidden fruits of Spain (sol, playa, tapas, alegría…) or a fan del inglés who sees the promise of the cultura anglosajona. The two need each other at that half-way point. The guiri needs to feel needed and integrated in Spain and the fan del inglés needs the contact with his or her ‘other side’.

Even those 100% convinced of the superiority of lo español are being ‘forced’ to speak English. And you can’t speak a language convincingly without at least empathizing with its culture…

Espanglis is both a comparison of two cultures and a celebration of a hybrid culture in its own right. Now… ¡Vamos a la calle!