City life, its speed, excitement, variety, culture and job opportunities act as a magnet for young people. But not everyone of a certain age yearns for the bright lights of the city; some prefer the countryside and its charms and traditions.
Euronews met 36 young people from nine European countries who came together for a week in Toledo, Spain, to promote and defend rural life. The project was funded by the Youth in Action programme.
Hugo Barthalay is a French national who has heeded the call of the countryside: 'The countryside scares some young people because it’s far away from everything, there is a lack of amenities, the social life isn’t very intense, even though it’s different, but a good many young people are changing their ideas about rural life.'
Hugo is 22 and a student. His university is 200 kilometers away so he explained he has chosen distance learning: 'My choice seems strange to some. When I explain that I’m on a distance learning course and prefer to live in the countryside, people think I have no social life, no contact with fellow students, but actually I have as much as the others via new technologies, and I meet other people I wouldn’t have the chance to meet if I was at university.'
According to the UN 180,000 people, mostly young, migrate to cities every day. But since the financial crises things are changing. Noelia Martin, who is from Spain, says: 'The average age of the rural population is very high. There are many old people. Actually not many young people want to stay there. But the urban exodus has started, like we used to have rural exodus, in the past. Little by little, people are returning to the villages.'
Across Europe 13 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 live in rural areas and the Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth Movement, that organized the meeting in Toledo, is working hard to combat social exclusion.
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