A year ago today I headed off on my year abroad. I was scared, apprehensive and waiting for something (or everything) to go wrong.
Now? I am wishing I could head back to Cádiz and spend another nine months exploring Spain, rather than start what is sure to be a pretty stressful final year.
It occurred to me recently that there were so many tiny things that I worried about before arriving in Spain, so many questions that I would have liked answers to. So I thought I would write up a post and talk to you all about the things I wish someone had told me, or I wish I had asked, before I headed off (in no particular order); some tips and tricks for living in Spain, if you will.
Before we (I) start, remember that I lived in a very tiny town in southern Spain. If you’re heading to a city or somewhere further north, you might not (probably won’t) have the same experience!
Firstly, buy painkillers before you go to Spain, because wow are they expensive when you get there. You can’t just walk into a supermarket, part with 50p and walk away with a packet of paracetamol just as easily as you can in the UK. You have to go to a pharmacy, ask for what you need and part with pretty much 10x that amount. So I highly recommend stocking up, because painkillers are always one of those things that I never have when I need one!
Something else that I realised relatively early on, is that supermarkets in Spain don’t tend to stock much in the way of skincare. There’s no real version of Boots or Superdrug either, at least not one that I could find in southern Spain, so a pharmacy or a Sephora is probably the best place to head to for face creams, cleansers, toners or face masks.
Next up on my list of things that were hard for me to find in Spain, is cheddar cheese. Something I never realised how much I adored until I couldn’t get it at my local supermarket. Sure, goats cheese is great (especially baked in the oven and then served hot – try it and thank me later), but it’s just not quite the same when you melt it in a pasta sauce.
Moving on from things that are difficult to find, I wanted to include in here something that I discovered specifically when travelling around Spain. When someone tells you that a place isn’t too far away, and is easy to get to for a one night stay, it’s probably pretty far away. Most places around the south of Spain are.
A lot of places that people recommended we visit were around a three hour drive away, which wasn’t really suitable for a day trip. So if you’re looking to travel around a bit, make sure you schedule in some extra nights in some of the smaller towns, because chances are they’ll have taken a while to get to and you won’t want to leave straight away!
Finally, I thought I would mention something that I wish I hadn’t worried about before I moved to Spain: the public transport system. There’s a bit of a stereotype surrounding Spain, whereby everything is very relaxed and rarely running to a strict timetable.
I found, however, that the buses were on time so much more often than in the UK, and they are also a heck of a lot cheaper. A hugely enabling factor in our constant travelling!
If you have any questions, or additional tips, surrounding living in Spain, let me know. I’m always happy to yabber on about my year abroad (as you all know).