‘I am me and my circumstance’. Timeless words of the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset to reflect that each person has her own motivations and reasons to come to this land, together with how their current or previous environment affects them.
People from Northern Europe – broader and varied territory that many times serves Mediterranean people to categorise several nationalities as if they were all similar one to another – are usually attracted by the sun, then the sun, and finally the sun. Southern Europeans and North Africans are seeking a country with similarities to their original places – ehem, weather again together with food and easiness to understand the environment – and some more freedom and economic opportunities.
From the North and South American perspective, language is the main catalysator, either because they speak it or is easy to communicate from day one (Brazilians) or because learning it together with living a European Spanish culture is a big attraction (US and Canada).
What about Asia? Chinese have established business such as restaurants, convenience stores, and low-cost department stores. Another group often not considered are Philipines with their cultural ties as a Spanish colony till 1898. In the neighborhood I grew up there was a large community.
Obviously, other factors determining the move are age and socio-economic status. Recently (or not so) graduated from a country with Shakespeare’s language? You can earn some money from day one as a freelance instructor and many schools are looking for ‘auxiliares’ who are English native speakers to help locals in their classes in both English and Spanish. Want to maximise rents & weather? Scandinavians, Germans, British and Irish sign up for coming here if they are retired or have some passive income.
From the corporate perspective, many multinationals send managers and executives to supervise/control/direct their operations in the Iberian peninsula. I worked in two German companies for which that was a clear example – on the funny side, it was remarkable that as of the month of October the number of business visits from the headquarters suddenly skyrocketed!
In academic terms, we also host many students and professors from the American continents, again exploiting our language and cultural links and the good reputation of some business schools and universities.
What’s your perspective? For which reasons have you come to Spain? Let us know more about you and your circumstances…
Photos: Park in El Escorial, Region of Madrid; Edificio Metrópolis, Madrid.