Interview with Svitlana Petronyuk

By Roman Koshivka

Spain is one of the leading countries by the immigration rates in the World and the population now by 10% consists of immigrants. So, I thought it would be interesting to interview a person who came to Spain and lives in Spain long enough and ask how he or she sees it.  Thus, this is the interview with Svitlana Petronyuk, Ukrainian woman, who came to Spain 10 years ago. Back at home she finished university at a faculty of foreign languages, used to work as an English teacher at a middle school in her home town.

On the question why did she moved to Spain (which happened 10 years ago) she smiles and answers that, probably, because of the same reason as all the people  move to another country – in search of better life. Now she lives in Madrid with her husband Borys and 8 years old son Eugeniy and works as a yoga and pilates instructor.

However, she says that conditions for a young family in Spain could be better. Youth is not likely to get a mortgage credit from a bank and may experience financial difficulties without any help from parents. And the expenses of a family are usually higher than its average income. Of course, if you work hard, you will get through, but Spain is a country where both of the parents in a family have to work.

When she just came in here she planned to stay for two or three years, earn some money and then return home. “But as you stay here, learn the language, get used to your new life you change your plans,” Svitlana says. “Of course, a person can never become fully integrated. If you come to a country being a grown up formed individual, you will always keep your mentality and the way of thinking. You can be interested in the culture of the new country, accept and like their traditions, but you will always be in to some level connected with your home. A person can never completely change him or herself. But I never felt discriminated or somehow spurned.” She has a lot of both Ukrainian and Spanish friends, speaks Spanish fluently, often, when she is able to, visits art exhibitions and theaters. And, also, she makes a contribution to the development of Ukrainian culture here in Spain working as a school teacher at a Ukrainian school in Madrid every Saturday. Her son goes to a normal Spanish elementary school and visits the Ukrainian one every weekend as well.

However, she sees a big difference between the Spain now and the way it used to be ten years ago. “The life here has changed dramatically during the last decade: first of all, the economic crisis had its effect. Many of the immigrants from Eastern Europe were forced to return to their home countries as most of them worked on construction sites and many of the projects were stopped, so they lost their jobs. Most of those Ukrainian immigrants who left, unfortunately, do not want to change their habits, improve their professional level, they just tend to work more hours. And the overall situation in here has changed: the salaries are getting lower, the prices are increasing. Also the prices on education used to be so low that students from all the Europe, especially from UK, came here to study,.  Now, education, art, cultural becomes unaffordable for the middle class.”

I asked her what does she like more about Spain in comparison to Ukraine. “First of all, the mentality. They are less about material goods than Ukrainians. Our people usually think only of the wealth gaining and try to earn as much money as they can, seems like they are gathering a capital for 5 lives in advance.  Spanish people know how to live. They be10062013693lieve that if they work, they have right to spend their money as they want, they can enjoy the moment, rest, travel. However, the economic situation now is forcing them to change somehow.  Secondly, it is the weather. Days are brighter, sunnier which makes you happier and more cheerful.  Thirdly, people in Spain have much better manners; they are more respectable and tolerant. Also, I have never experienced or heard about any racial or national discrimination in Spain. This is probably one of the best counties in Europe in terms of the attitude to the immigrants, no matter where they are from and how do they look.” She believes this stems from history, as many of Spaniards used to work abroad in the times of Francisco Franco regime.

She does not build any specific plans for the future yet, but definitely she would like to stay in Spain. “Maybe I would like to change my job – not completely, I like to do what I am doing – but maybe improve myself professionally . I cannot imagine my life anywhere else, I am used to Madrid, the city gives many opportunities for personal development. Even though Spain is experiencing some hard times now, it is a very good place to live.”


Los comentarios están cerrados.

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: