I have been planning on moving to Europe for at least 15 years. I remember I listened to the music by Architecture in Helsinki and thought – that’s the place for me! Helsinki! Now, my tastes and preferences may have shifted (although I’ve never been to Helsinki so who knows), but I have finally made the big move. What are some things I wish I had been more aware of before moving here?
- It isn’t cheap – Between the visa process, flights, baggage fees, initial accommodation and upfront rent, getting into my placement was not a cheap undertaking. That being said, this could all be covered if you have a sponsored visa. Being honest, Spain is also one of the least expensive places to travel to. I would say upfront it was around $2000 dollars for me to take care of everything I needed to do.
- You need to be so organized otherwise you’ll go crazy – In terms of the visa process, packing and finding an apartment, it is imperative to be organized. I wanted to know exactly what was in each of my suitcases. The initial week or two of living in hostels was torture with so much luggage. It made it more bearable to be organized about where I could find the most important objects.
- Small cities might not be the best for meeting people – I didn’t exactly know what to think when I first got placed in Zaragoza. Mostly, I was happy to be in a Roman town. It had a few of my favorite stores. There is a rather large University. I was surprised to find out that a lot of people here have their distinct groups of friends which they don’t feel the need to add to.
- Time of your life may make it more difficult to make friends – While there is a large University, I’m a little old for the Erasmus/University experience. What I mean is – I don’t want to go out every weekend. Finding people who were in more or less the same position as me has been a bit difficult. I do have one good friend who I have cultivated but I do wish I had more support here.
- Advice isn’t always helpful on how to make friends – So many of my well meaning friends and family members have made suggestions. I’ve genuinely tried to do the most tried and true ways to make friends – I joined Meetup and student Facebook groups. However, my interests are not necessarily the ones that are most represented. I don’t really want to join a sports team. I’m not totally interested in a clothing swap. So – yeah – even though I am sure these work for some people, they don’t work for me.
- You may develop skills you don’t expect – In my first six months, I’ve worked on a bullet journal, started learning watercolors, written a good amount and started practicing calligraphy. I don’t know what I would have expected but I love all these new skills and pursuits.
- The food may be amazing but it may not agree with you – Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of absolutely delicious things here. However, after one of my most tasty menu del dias, I immediately lost it. It was so sad! While I have had plenty of non-scarring experiences, I am a touch cautious.
Those are the seven things that I wish I had been more aware of before moving to Zaragoza. If you have moved abroad, what are some things you wish you knew beforehand? Let me know below!