Even before arriving to Madrid, I had very high expectations. Welcome to my experience as an international student who is going abroad -again-
As a matter of fact, I know that as it international students sometimes we don’t find a meaningful sentence to describe “home”, especially after we have left home looking for a better and brighter future. I’m Venezuelan, and I left home when I was 17 years old due to the political, humanitarian and social crisis in Venezuela. No matter why you left your home country, I understand most of your experiences and this blog is for you!
Now that I’ve introduced myself -a little bit- let’s start from the beginning of the whole experience: packing.
As an international student, I dare to say that we are less afraid of what “change” could do to our lives. We left out comfort zone when we left home and our families, we foster our independence from a young age -no matter what the reason was- and traveling isn’t something we are afraid of.
My first advice for you when you start packing is to consider the idea that you might want to stay in the place that you chose. Talking from the experience, I chose Madrid as my study abroad destination and during my two months in Spain I decided to stay to finish my bachelor’s degree in “La Universidad Europea de Madrid”. I had enough time to process all my school application and visa application and this end up being the place where I feel belonged. And you might ask yourself, why is this an advice for packing? Well, I left in San Francisco -the place where I lived before- plenty of clothes and shoes that I want back.
Second, when packing, be aware of the weather in the location that you chose. In my case, Venezuela doesn’t have four seasons and I used to completely ignore the climate as a factor that influence my experience in a foreign country, but it does. Believe or not, seasons are very different even in the very same continent. I’ve traveled some places in Europe during my global internship and in Barcelona, Spain my shorts and crop tops saved my life and kept me fresh. However, when I visited Berlin, Germany my jean jacket was my best friend during night, due to the decrease in temperature that could reach until 17 degrees (Celsius) at night.
Third, pack clothes for every occasion that you could possibly think of. During my internship, I had a amazing relationship with my boss. She encouraged me to follow my dreams and she helped me with my dilemma between law school or continue my international relationships major. We built a good relationship and at the end of my internship, my bosses and the other intern -who was also very nice- had lunch together. It was such a lovely place and I’m glad I packed clothes that fit the occasion. Also, Madrid has an active nightlife, during the week I could go out around 3 times and during the weekend… I barely was at home. I know that we tend to mainly focus our clothing to how we are expected to dress up for our internship/university/educational program, and that’s not wrong, because you will spend a lot of time in those. Nonetheless, Madrid is not only the place for you internship or your classes, Madrid is the whole city experience. For example, I traveled with students whose first language wasn’t Spanish -mine is- and they found very helpful to go out and practice Spanish with native speakers at the bars, nightclubs, restaurants, museums, shopping and many other activities. Even though their internships taught them specific vocabulary, which they will definitely use in their future job interviews, they also found helpful the “urban vocabulary”. Learning the slams, words and expressions helped them to make new friends, to network outside their work place and to enjoy the city in another level.
Last but not least, don’t forget to leave some space available in your luggage. I guarantee that almost everyone will lobe shopping in Madrid. My some of my favorites brand are Zara and Mango, and they were born here! Only in the center of Madrid there are 4 different Zara stores and one of them has four floors. Also, there are brands that doesn’t exist in the U.S, Stradivarius is a good example.
Packing for me is the beginning of my trip, and that’s why I feel worthy to talk about it. Enjoy it! It’s the beginning of your new journey.