Lately, I’ve received some questions about moving abroad and while I feel like I'm just winging it over here, I wrote down a few things I have learned since I moved. If you have any other questions, send me an email and I will be happy to answer them!
Other things I packed that I shouldn’t have: hot rollers, hair straightener, sound machine and tons of workout clothes. The electricity blew out my beloved sound machine and rollers. It also ruined my Clarisonic so I recommend buying spanish products with european plugs.
2. Google talk. This is amazing. For .01 cents per minute you can talk internationally through the microphone on your computer. I used it to for an interview the other day with no problem. The glitch with FaceTime or Viber is that the other party has to have wifi, whereas with Google Talk you can call them whenever and it can also be used to call corporations (ie: ATT, British Airways, Citibank, etc).
3. Say yes. To the 60 euro RyanAir flight to the beach. To the date. To the birthday party. You never know who you’ll meet or what could happen! One of my favorite weekend trips was planned over wine at 4 pm on a Friday. We left an hour later.
4. Don't touch the fruit. It really angers Spanish grocers when you touch their fruit. I don’t know how you are supposed to know if it’s good if you can’t touch it, but whatever. I r-e-s-p-e-c-t the fruit grocers.
5. Keep a journal or start a blog. I love writing so this is easy for me, but I would encourage everyone to record their experience! So much has happened: good, bad and hilarious that I don’t ever want to forget. Plus, I love journals because it’s cool to see how things evolve. So many times I find I write about something I’m worrying over only to have the prayer answered later.
6. Bank accounts. I use BBVA and I love it. It’s been really easy, no surprise fees, ATM’s everywhere.
7. Phone plan. I brought two unlocked iPhones, bought a SIM card from Vodafone and have a prepaid phone plan I pay online every month. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I recommend getting whatever phone provider your friends have so you can call them for free.
8. Get involved. Run a marathon. Volunteer. Go to concerts. Sign up for Spanish classes ASAP. Take a Spanish cooking class. Try different festivals around the city (ie: tapapies in Lavapies). There is always something going on in Madrid. Spanish people love to celebrate!
9. Laugh. Don't take everything too seriously. Life abroad is weird and can be really frustrating at times, so try to smile and have a positive attitude. If it is annoying, it will probably make you laugh later. Or not, but regardless, I don't want to ever look back and feel like I wasted any precious time being worried or upset.
Por ejempo, I broke my nose on Thanksgiving and spent it in an ambulance. The perk of that situation was we got upgraded to first class on our flight to Germany the next day because I looked so pitiful in my little eye patch. In the photo below, I was dodging being hit by truckers on the side of the road because I couldn't find the VERY CLEARLY marked bike lane 50 meters away. Hey.... just keep smiling!