Pre-Departure Spain:

Blog by Shada Shomali — Study Abroad Spain

Try­ing to fig­ure out what to bring on my 3.5 month adven­ture abroad has been very over­whelm­ing! I per­son­ally am an over packer and have a bad ten­dency to bring every­thing with me. Here are the top seven essen­tial tips that helped me out:

1.      You don’t need to nec­es­sar­ily worry about buy­ing a sep­a­rate phone for abroad. Every­where you go mostly has Wi-Fi and What­sApp, Viber, and Skype are the three essen­tial apps to down­load. If you have an Iphone you can send Imes­sage for free with Wi-Fi (just make sure your phone is on air­plane mode the whole time so you won’t be charged).  Any­where you have wifi you can text/call/facetime in the world for free. So don’t stress on buy­ing a sim card or new phone just for abroad, it’s not necessary.

2.      Make sure to buy at least two con­vert­ers! These are a MUST because the plugs in Europe are dif­fer­ent than the ones back at home. You can order them for around $5 on amazon!

3.      Look into get­ting a BECU debit card. They only have a 1% trans­ac­tion fee and most banks usu­ally have a larger one. Research on what banks don’t have high for­eign fees and get one of their cards! Also, you don’t need to bring cur­rency with you. Once you get to the air­port of your arrival des­ti­na­tion you should just with­draw money out of the ATM. That way you get the best rates there. Don’t for­get to call your banks telling them you are going abroad or else they will block your card.

4.      Make copies and have doc­u­men­ta­tions of your pass­port and credit cards you’re bring­ing. This is impor­tant just in case any­thing gets lost or stolen you will be prepared.

5.      Bring com­fort­able shoes!!! I can’t stress enough how much walk­ing I have done already in the past week. Your feet will hurt and com­fort­able ten­nis shoes are def­i­nitely an essential.

6.      Pack light and pack smart. Be pre­pared for dif­fer­ent weather, but don’t bring too much. You will def­i­nitely do a lot of shop­ping when you are study­ing abroad and you don’t want to carry too many suit­cases with you.  It becomes a has­sle. Also, bring a small carry on suit­case you can take with you on week­end trips. Since all the coun­tries are so close together you will be trav­el­ing a lot and a small carry on will be per­fect for week­end adventures!

7.      Get in touch with the stu­dents in your group before­hand. That way you guys can travel together and buy the same tick­ets. It will be great to have a heads start meet­ing your peers you will be study­ing with!

            As my adven­ture abroad has started, I have landed in Lon­don for 10 days before my actual pro­gram in San Sebas­t­ian, Spain starts. I highly rec­om­mend tak­ing advan­tage of the break you have before the pro­gram starts so you can travel more! Lon­don is absolutely breath­tak­ing! The city is gor­geous and there are so many things to do! I per­son­ally rec­om­mend doing all the touristy things you can. You will get a feel for the city and learn so much his­tory! The Lon­don Eye is a must, you can see all over the city! Bor­oughs Mar­ket has such amaz­ing food from all dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Try­ing a tra­di­tional mash and pie in Lon­don is also a must. With my 10 days in Lon­don I made it to Dublin, Ire­land for two nights.  It’s only around a 50 minute flight to Dublin and you can find cheap tick­ets online from Skyscanner.com. The city is filled with the nicest peo­ple I have ever met. They are always will­ing to go out of their way to help you out. After being in Dublin for a full day I went on a day excur­sion to the West Coast to see the Cliffs of Moher. I highly highly highly rec­om­mend this excur­sion to any­one going to Ire­land! It is by far the most beau­ti­ful place on earth I have ever been. You can sit on the cliffs and watch the ocean for hours and still not get tired of your view! Through­out my time in Lon­don and Ire­land it was a great way to start my jour­ney abroad! In both coun­tries peo­ple drive on oppo­site sides of the road and dri­vers are on the right hand side. Be care­ful cross­ing the streets! It was extremely con­fus­ing for me. But over­all, I was blown away with how much there were to do in both cities and how beau­ti­ful every­thing was!

shada2     Big Ben Clocktower     The London Eye

Coastline     Coastline