Before you depart for your semester in Spain, there are several important things to take care of at home.You’ll probably be overwhelmed with packing, but these tips will help you be prepared before your arrival in Spain.
- Phone. If you have a smartphone, we recommend getting a local SIM card so that you can receive a Spanish number and use data with minimal charge.
- When you arrive in Spain, head to a phone store. The most popular companies are Orange, Vodaphone, Movistar, and Yoigo. Data is incredibly cheap compared to the States, and most companies allow you to buy a monthly gigabyte of data for around 10€.
- If you don’t already use WhatsApp, you’ll find it’s the best way to communicate with friends from home and your new international friends.
- Debit and Credit Cards. If your card doesn’t have a chip in it, go ahead and order a new one at least three weeks out.
- The chip is an added layer of security, and is accepted internationally.
- Make sure you notify your bank before you leave that you’ll be traveling abroad so they don’t freeze your account!
- You will also want more than one card in case one gets lost, stolen, or doesn’t work. Don’t travel with both, leave one behind in a safe place.
- If you have extra time, withdraw some Euros beforehand, because this saves time and stress when you land.
Things to pack:
- Note: The weather throughout Spain varies greatly; the northern regions have much harsher winters while the southern regions are milder in the winter with extremely hot summers. Be sure to do a bit of research on your destination city and adjust accordingly.
- A heavy winter jacket
- Even if you are studying in a “warmer” city, a winter coat is essential and you will need it to travel to other cities in Europe.
- Definitely break them in before you leave, you’ll be walking a lot. These will also be what you wear when you travel, so if you’re planning on going colder places, make sure they’re warm.
- Thick wool socks are a must; don’t forget to pack a few pairs. Some floors are marble, and cold in the winter, especially in homes without central heating, so you’ll be very happy to have these.
- A few pairs of pants and jeans
- However many pants you are thinking of packing, halve it! You won’t wear most of what you bring, so keep it simple and only bring your favorites and the things you’re sure you’ll wear often. Shopping in Spain is relatively inexpensive.
- Shirts and sweaters for layering
- Again, stick to basics!
- Some nicer clothes for going out
- Spaniards tend to dress up more than you might be used to. Keep it classy! Depending on the type of club or bar you’re going to, you may be just fine in jeans and sneakers, but there will be times you want dressier clothes and heels as well.
- Sneakers or comfortable walking shoes
- Flip flops and sandals
- Tank tops and summer dresses (especially in the south!)
- Lots of socks and underwear
- Workout clothes
- Note: people in Spain rarely wear workout clothes unless they’re actually working out.
- Simple medicine (i.e. Advil, Claritin, NyQuil, etc.)
- More than 1 outlet convertor
- You can also buy one with multiple plugs if you plan on travelling to several different countries.
- Travel bag
- Most discount airlines allow just 1 carry-on without charge. After that, they’ll charge a lot; it’s how they make their money. Make sure you have a bag to travel with that fits their requirements.
- Go light with these, as you can buy almost any name-brand product that you need. Do bring some smaller containers that you can fill up when you travel.
- Student ID (even your U.S. one)
- Keep it with you, especially when you travel. Most museums and attractions will have a student discount, or let you in for free with your ID.
Pack less than you think you need. Leave room for new clothes and souvenirs, because you will want to buy plenty of them!