From time to time, it’s refreshing to see your own country through other people’s eyes, particularly foreign eyes.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to enjoy that enriching experience during a master class by Joanne Scillitoe. She was explaining to EIT alumni what a PESTEL analysis is, and she used Spain as an example. In just 10 minutes, what a beautiful bird’s eye view!
USA is amazing at solving intricate science and technology problems that no other country has solved but struggles at solving every day life challenges that all other developed nations have solved. Spain is not perfect, housing costs are high, good jobs are tougher to find, half of Catalonians want out, political corruption is unacceptable, universities produce no Nobel prizes. But here cancer does not mean bankruptcy, pregnancies come with maternity leave, long vacations available to all, gun deaths, opium deaths are almost unheard of and in 09 when unemployment shot up crime surprisingly went down.
Overall, Spain was richer and more functional than I expected. The biggest surprise was the low level of English knowledge of the population. Even in tourist areas, most people spoke virtually no English. I still think that Spanish unemployment is a tragic problem, especially for the young. Yet properly measured, finding a job in Spain is plausibly easier than finding a job in France or Italy. Spanish housing regulation is especially crazy, however, because the country is unbelievably empty. The quickest way to explain Spain to an American: Spain is the California of Europe. My biggest epiphany: Spain has more to gain from immigration than virtually any other country on Earth. In terms of potential, I’m very long on Spain. The trinity of “deregulate immigration, employment, and housing” is vital in almost every country, but this formula would do more for Spain than nearly any other country.
If we could only get rid of the day to day rush of irrelevant news and concentrate on those foreign eyes’ views…
Featured Image: Nighttime View of the Strait of Gibraltar