Many say the Spanish are lazy, but that’s not it. There’s something else, intangible, that’s developed in the culture and history. The children of Spain aren’t raised to follow their dreams. School has become, for the most part, just a place for passing exams, never for debate, discussion or critical thinking. Your curro, or job, is to endure from nine to nine, pushing buttons until the next break. A history of civil war and a 39-year dictatorship, followed by a construction boom and crash, to now, where it’s taken for granted that politicians will be corrupt, has led to a nation that’s devoutly proud of being Spanish, but that can’t define what that even means.
The problem with discussing these things is that most Spaniards don’t even notice them. The Catalans are definitely the most productive and serious in Spain in my experience. No wonder they want independence! They are also much more freedom loving and not as “herd mentality” as the rest of Spain in many regions. Even in Christmas, most Spaniards who travel solo will only be Catalan. All the other Spaniards will be “in mei vilash guith mei femili”.
Spain still has NO government…but it doesn’t matter anyway since Europe decides what economic policies they should have, etc. And nobody seems to either worry or care. In fact they just voted in a second time a very corrupt government. Now, yes, I know that there is corruption in the US but people do get punished for it eventually and there is more accountability. Here? This place is such a joke in more than one way…and most of the people who will be the harshest critics are thinking Spaniards.
If you are a very confident type, a “go getter”, intelligent and competent, you will not be very happy or satisfied in Spain. In fact, most of the highest achievers here LEAVE the country because this is no place for them. Even the “elite” send their children to the US or the UK because of the superior school and legal systems. So if you are the ambitious type, if you don’t like putting up with red tape and endless BS as well as people who won’t give it to you straight, Spain is not right for you. For me, the US is far more friendly to daring and entrepreneurial types than most of Europe.
1. Forget about “intellectual life” in Spain or “intelligent discussions”. Sure, I know that in the US most people aren’t walking around having “deep” discussions of any sort, but believe me the level of debate is far higher in the US or the UK compared to Spain. Most people are VERY PASSIVE and don’t really care either way about what’s happening. Most people in Spain not only don’t have any deep debate, but whenever there is a deep discussion people get VERY VERY offended in ways that make even the worst US Social Justice Warrior look conservative. There really is no debate culture here. Take that as you will. In the US, there may be a lot of idiots, but you have many more options if you REALLY look for it and want to have discussion on this or that topic. There are forums and groups for everyone there.
2. Spain is very cheap by London, Paris or New York standards. Outside Madrid and Barcelona, you can really live a relatively comfortable existence (NO LUXURIES THOUGH) for about 1000 euros/month. That may sound nice, but of course, the salaries are among the lowest in the world. So you get “free” healthcare (you pay for it and your employer through taxes, so it’s not really “free”). If you even think about being promoted or changing jobs here, FORGET ABOUT IT. You need to have really good connections for that. That’s ok if you want to do a brief stint here, but it’s not a future I want.
3. Shallow culture. If all you like is sun, party and tapas, sitting outside all day and drinking beer or whatever, then yes, by all means come to Spain. But for me there are other things in life. Sure, Spain has history. So what? If you want history you can always travel to it and take it in briefly. The US may not have centuries and centuries of history, but there are many historical places. Europeans will lecture you about how awful the US is, but they ignore their own very serious problems. Western Europeans are in no condition to lecture Americans on most topics except, perhaps, violence (but violence is also the sign of a more dynamic society in some ways)…of people who take a stand. Believe me, looking out your window and seeing the same people everyday sitting outside, laughing and rotting without any hope of fixing the future gets old real fast. If you even mention these things to Spanish people A LOT OF THEM will say “qué pesado” – which translates as “you’re so annoying and negative!” I’ve even mentioned this to some Spanish people who do think and they agree with me that this country is for the most part herd mentality, shallow, superficial and not a place for people who want to “perfect” themselves.
These are obviously just my opinions and I don’t intend to convince you that it is the Gospel on Spain. But I am convinced after many years that it’s not the ideal place to live if you want to improve yourself. The country is majority small minded, not very intelligent, arrogant, and above all obsessed with some of the most vain things.They’re all perpetual students working minimal wage jobs in Schengen.