One Week Down, Four(ish) Months to Go

Katrina Matthews-Mcgann
September 9, 2016

Well dear reader(s), I made it. I have successfully survived an entire week (count ‘em, seven whole days) here in Salamanca, Spain (yayyy me!). Let me tell you, this week has been full of ups and downs (more ups than downs, luckily). There has definitely been an intense adjustment period; I’ve had to deal with a huge time zone change and the terrible, exhausting effects of jetlag and I’m also continuous learning all about the cultural norms and differences here en España (for example: the walking speed of Spaniards is quite different than of Americans; more on this to come later).

My most recent photo post showed some of the things I decided to make a point of bringing with me here to Spain. I just wanted to take a moment and share with you(all) what was actually a good idea to bring:

Something to budget with: I wouldn’t say you need to have a physical booklet to record your every purchase (but if that’s something that works for you then great!) but you should definitely have an idea of how much money you want to spend in any given week/month. It’s far too easy to go out and get gelato or drinks or tapas and end up spending 30 euros in one day when you only wanted to spend five. Just be mindful of how much money you have, how much you actually want to spend, and do your best to stick with it. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re trying to travel to Portugal for the weekend and actually have enough money for the plane ride.

Tissue: This is an item I think will be more helpful for women, but I also believe there is definite cause for men to consider it also. To make a long, drawn out explanation with diagrams and follow up questions short, you never know when a toilet in a restaurant or bar or club is not going to have toilet paper. I don’t know about some people but that whole drip-dry method is not for me (although apparently it’s a thing for guys to just not use toilet paper when they go pee??? Like, why???). But going beyond the simple realm of peeing, I do know that everybody poops (seriously, there’s a whole book about this) and for the sake of my sanity, I like to think most people wipe their butt after they do so (and if you don’t, just know that I’m judging you. Heavily). So take some tissue with you when you go out, just to be prepared for the worst.

Hand Sanitizer: On that same note, not all toilets will have soap. So take some hand sanitizer with you when you go to dinner that one night. Keep yourself healthy. Clean your hands. Don’t spread germs by touching other things or people (seriously, please don’t touch me if you’re coming straight from a no-wipe-down, no-hand-wash situation). Also, the great thing about hand sanitizer (and tissue for that matter) is that they come in these cute little packets that you can carry around in your purse (or pockets if you’re not big on purses).

Shoes you can walk in for hours: If you have the crazy idea in your head that you won’t be walking everywhere you go please stop, think, and understand that you’re lying to yourself. My housemate calculated it and she figures that we walk, at least, 11 miles every day. Now, you may only find yourself walking seven, five, or two miles a day. It honestly doesn’t matter how much you’re walking because if you have the wrong kind of shoes on it’s going to seem like you’re Atlas, drudging around with the weight on your shoulders and pain in your feet. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a brand new pair of expensive walking shoes. I’m just saying you need to bring shoes you know you’re able to walk in for long periods of time. Your feet will thank you.

An understanding of military time and Celsius: Most clocks work on military time here in Spain and most stores post their hours the same way. Having a simple understanding of how it works can save you from the horrific realization that 15:00 is actually 3:00pm not 5:00pm and the store you seriously needed to go to for school is now closed. Also the temperature unit here is degrees Celsius. Having a general idea of what the temperature should be like in Celsius will save you from the confusion of hearing someone say it’s 30 degrees outside and then you go out and regret putting on that sweater and jeans combo because it’s actually around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Towels: This one surprised me a little. I plan on traveling a bit while I’m here so I automatically brought a towel for my eventual hostel stays. But you will also need one if you’re staying with a host family. My thought was that if they’re going to be feeding you three times a day and providing you with bedding and a bathroom, they’ll definitely have towels for you to use. This is not always the case. They may have a towel for you and they may not. Play it safe and bring one with you (it can even be your oldest, rattiest towel that you can throw away if you end up not needing it).

            Now, all of these things are obviously up to you as an individual. There are definitely, a few smaller things I’d like to add to the list but, believe it or not, these blogs have a word count limit. In any case, I think these are the big ones you should focus on for now (but don’t worry, I’ll let you know as the semester continues other things you as a world class traveler should consider having on your Journey).


Hasta la próxima reader(s),


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Katrina Matthews-Mcgann

<p>I&#39;m a third year college student excited about seeing everything this amazing planet has to offer. Originally from Oregon, I&#39;ve slowly been finding my place in the world through travels throughout North America, China, and now Europe! I hope this blog offers advice, inspiration, and a bit of humor for any current and future travelers.</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
Pomona College
International Relations
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