When the economic bubble bursted back in 2008 and brought upon us the financial crisis which the world is still dealing with today, a lot of people lost their savings, their job, or even their house. But what is far worse: hundreds of thousands of young people lost their future.

Spain, where I was living at the time, was one of the countries struck hardest by the crisis although I, as part of the erasmus community, wasn’t really directly confronted with this situation. Of course we did notice the frequent occasions in which bedraggled looking men were searching in litter bins, or the many appartments put out for sale on street corners, but in general life was very good. We got our scholarships in time, lived in a sunny country with amazing people and every month or two we could skip a day of school due to strikes of students protesting against cuts in the education budget.

At first this fact amused me dearly. Who wouldn’t enjoy an extra day off every month? These weren’t my problems, I was just a ‘visiting student’, bound by contract to stay just long enough in my hostcountry to pass my exams and maybe learn a bit of Spanish while I was at it. Yet after a while the magic of every erasmus experience started to reveal itself, and the cultural exchange between us foreigners and them locals showed us the very core of the whole studying-abroad-thing: some very needed mind-broadening. We got to know Spanish students, worked and lived with them, got drunk with them, threw parties with them, fell in love with them, did stupid shit with them. Together. They became friends. Friends who’s future dóes depend on the decisions taken today by the people in charge. My opinion changed. This was not amusing at all.


General strike, Valencia, november 14th 2012

I  joined some Spanish friends once on a demonstration against the cut-downs. At first it just seemed like the thing to do because I had never been in a demonstration before. Of course also in Belgium there are demonstrations for this or that every now and then, but for some reason they always concern things far away from my daily reality. They never really seem to threaten my cosy student life. This demonstration was different. Although the atmosphere was good, with even some Brazilian music group playing the drums while marching, you could see people were not happy with the fast rate at which the country was falling apart. People were angry, and with a reason. This situation cannot continue to exist. As of august 2013 youth unemployment in Spain reached 56%. Let me give you some time to process that number. 56% of all people under 25 has no job!! No opportunities. No future.

They are called the lost generation. There is no reason for them to stay in Spain. So they leave. In large numbers. According to official statistics, nearly 365,000 Spaniards between the ages of 16 and 29 have left the country  in 2012 to seek work abroad. With this brain drain Spain loses human capital, one of the key elements for growth, but it goes so much further then that. Families get torn apart. Mothers are losing their sons, fathers see their daughters leave in search for a better future. And that deserves some attention as well from time to time. This video, which was shared on social media by a large number of Spanish friends, is dedicated to all those who are far from home.

For those who do not speak Spanish:

The video shows two young professionals who emigrated to South America in order to escape the economic reality of Spain at the moment, and the unannounced first visit home after 2 years.  Through te video they protest against the policy of the Spanish government which forced them to leave the country.