On Poetry and Culture Shock

The marriage of true minds

I have lived in three countries with drastically different customs about the beginning of adult life. In Spain, no one moves away from their parents without having a steady job, yep, a full-time job, or even not until you can afford buying a house. Considering the unemployment rates, the cost of housing, and the fact that you need two salaries (one for the mortgage, one to live on), the average age of becoming completely independent is somewhere around the early thirties. Earlier than 25 is very unusual; some people even think it is perfectly normal to stay with your parents indefinitely if you’re single.

I knew that other countries do it differently and you leave your parents when you’re eighteen. What baffles me is that in the US, people not only leave their parents sooner than we do. I understand that, it doesn’t shock me, after all Universities have this annoying habit of being in the middle of nowhere, so independence (even if not always complete economical self-reliance) comes early. And I have seen it happen in Scotland. The culture-shocking bit is that (gasp) students get married.

If I knew one or two married couples, I would be a bit surprised. But no, it seems relatively normal. Married students are a minority, and I don’t know any married undergrads, it’s something more characteristic of grad students. Some of them met in the real world, got married, and then one of them came to grad school and the other followed; some others met and got married while both were in grad school.

From my perspective, personally and culturally, it is scary as hell to take that step before securing a future economically. Or maybe it’s that I’m more used to see long engagements. But it is probably a better option than the ten-year (and more) long engagements that some Spaniards go through while they wait for the perfect home and the perfect jobs.

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