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!