Apart from sunbathing, drinking sangria and napping in the afternoon my activities while on year abroad in Spain include writing a so-called ‘year abroad research project’ on a chosen topic. Pick a topic, research it well, write 6000 words in Spanish. Easy peasy. So I chose what seemed to me like a fascinating issue that can be deeply investigated, did some basic research still in England and flew to Spain all happy and excited about it. I had my master plan plotted: go to museums, read newspapers, prepare questionnaires and do interviews, I’d be done way before the deadline in May and then I can just sunburn my happy face on the beach. Little did I know in reality my topic is a cheeky monkey. Not to mention I was being optimistic about the time: for Erasmus students it is a law of nature to do things as late as possible. Luckily I’m one of those who work better under the pressure, so that has been my excuse for the last couple of months too. The point is, somehow I managed to choose one of the most controversial and difficult topics – identity amongst young people in Barcelona. My job is to find out if they feel more Catalan, more Spanish, both – or none of those. I decided to focus mainly on the language as it’s a great part of one’s identity but also for pragmatic reasons – words limit won’t let me write about much more than that.
So, having in mind my dry theoretical research, I expected to obtain quite balanced results confirming my expectations that the target group would decide their identity is dual. So far only one person said so. It seems like patriotism as such does not really exist in Spain – or maybe it does but only in Madrid although I’m guessing even there people are more proud of being madrileños than of being Spanish. So – local identity seems to be a more popular concept in Spain. The problem with Catalonia is that it is more distinct than any other region – which is perfectly understandable considering its independent traditions in the past – and quite desperate to become a separated country. Up until now I haven’t met one Catalan person that wouldn’t agree – at least to some small extent – that Catalonia should be a rightful independent country. Yet, it doesn’t mean that my respondents describe their identity as totally ‘Catalan.’ And, as I expected, no one described it as ‘Spanish.’ Some said nationality is about where you were born, some said it’s about where you love to be, about the culture, about the background… So, at this stage of my work I can be nothing but well confused. Catalan, not Catalan, Spanish, not Spanish, both or neither? Investigation in progress.