After the longest our team had so far, we finally arrived to León to discuss mobility opportunities with young Spanish students. We were also curious about how they see Europe in times of crisis. Youngsters talked not only about the consequences of these days on their families, but also pictured Europe as a faith for brighter future.
A room with AEGEE members curious about mobility programmes in Europe awaited the travelers directly after the trip. Foremost, participants were interested in obtaining professional experience abroad. They thought of the work placements with Erasmus+ and the Eurodyssée programme as great opportunities to gain know-how which will allow them to get better qualified jobs in Spain.
´Is the mobility of Spanish a youth voluntary decision?´ was the central question of the event. Many participants expressed that their friends nowadays have no other option than to search for a job abroad. Youth unemployment reaches the highest rates in the European Union. Anger and uncertainty are what push young people to search for work opportunities in countries with more stable labour markets.
However, this picture would not be complete without its brighter side. Even though many participants described such cases as forced mobility, they agreed that the idea of European integration and the creation of stronger ties with other European countries can boost Spanish well-being in the future. The European Union remains to be perceived as the world of opportunities.
Young people don´t know on which to door to knock when searching for information about mobility. Universities usually address them to the website where they can retrieve the information about the desired programmes. However, the majority of such websites are overloaded with the detailed information. Hence, many young people get demotivated to participate.
Universities are the leaders in providing information about student mobility and in many cases, unfortunately, the only ones. Asking participants if they came across any mobility programmes during their high schools or primary schools, they agreed that teenagers receive such information very sparingly.
On the second day, AEGEE-León and our team took the streets of the city, asking young people whether they are themselves optimistic or pesimist about the European project. The travelers gave them balloons on which they wrote what Europe means to them. University students, teenage girls or even young backpackers connected words like Erasmus, traveling or multiculturality with Europe. Surprisingly, many of them said that the first spontaneous thing which pops up in their mind when they hear Europe is the name of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Because of Germany’s stable economy many young Spanish people search for jobs there, so they see Germany as the leader of the European Union.
Young people expressed general discontent with their national politics. The inability of the government to respond to the crisis by creating effective social policies took massive amounts of people to streets, demanding free choice upon their lives and political views, and the end of the austerity measures. Young people see the political change as the major requisite for creating well-being and a supporting democracy in Spain.