Every week the centre is filled with students from all over Europe at least – sometimes students from eastern Europe and Turkey are in the mix. And having worked here for ten years, I could tell you, almost without error what a week would be like depending on the mix. Lots of Southern Europeans meant a fairly jolly, relaxed, sometimes boisterous week. Throw in a German or two and it went one of two ways – either more boisterous and unruly, or more competitive and serious. But there’s more to it than that nowadays.
Not being particularly au fait with the economic crisis and how it affects each country, my fairly casual observation tells me Germany is doing better than any other European country. How do I make this assumption? Germans have become our major nationality in the last couple of weeks, which suggests there is money available for training. The same observation tells me that Spain is probably suffering more than other European countries. How do I know? All our Spanish clients are independent – they are not sent from their companies, they are private clients.
Now whether this has caused the slight shift, I know not. But having made my observations, I have also noted that the seriousness that once belonged almost exclusively to our German clients has transferred to the Spanish; and the light-heartedness that was once the preserve of the Spanish has infected our German students.
We speak about the global village, how small the world is and the globalisation of English. But we also know that each culture is a separate and identifiable thing in and of itself. Nothing to date has been able to blur the edges of culture. But what then is this subtle change I have seen among my students? Has the global economic situation done more to smudge the edges of our identities than even a global language could?
I don’t know – but it’s there……