The other night I was out with a group of six of my Spanish friends. We were drinking, eating, and generally making a public nuisance of ourselves. At one point, my buddy Alen pointed out that he and I were the only people at the table who weren’t en paro, unemployed. He was right. A table full of highly educated, well-trained young Spaniards and 5/6 of them were unemployed. And not just out of work for the moment, but chronically, never managed to get more than seasonal/temp work, unemployed.
My friends are not an anomaly. The Spanish unemployment rate is over 50% for young people. Seriously: as of April 2013, 52.7% of Spaniards under 25 were collecting unemployment–and that doesn’t count people who are in school or have given up looking for work. And, if you go up to 29, it doesn’t get much better: 45.5% unemployment for 29 and under.
My fellow Americans, can you even imagine a world like that?
A world where most of your friends are out of work. A world where a college degree or two or three means nothing–or even being bi/trilingual. A world where there are hundreds of applicants for the most menial jobs. A world where no one, absolutely no one is hiring.
What does this world do to you?
Well I can tell you: it creates a choking apathy that you have to fight against every single day. An apathy that says, “Why even bother? It’s all completely fucked.”
My fellow Americans, in our deepest post-college, recession-fueled existential crises, we are still the happy unicorn bubblegum children compared to the Spanish.
Spain is different.
There’s a word they use over here to refer to my generation: ninis. It means ni trabajo, ni estudios (neither job or studying). The implication is that we aren’t working, aren’t studying, and just party and make drunken nuisances of ourselves. One awesome club song aside, it’s way too true to be funny.
Because seriously, what do you do with yourself when you can’t work?
Try to have some fun and enjoy life where you can.
And that’s where I want to end this more-sober-than-usual post: the spirit of fun that still endures. People are still drinking beers, having fun with their friends, making music, learning languages, and generally living life.
Oh and planning to GTFO of Spain! Yeah, Galicia is absolutely gushing young emigrants…