What I didn't know!
So you're just about ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime! Are you freaking out yet? I know I was a hot mess of nervousness and excitement! What should you expect to encounter on this journey you may ask? It's true you can read blog after blog and truly never know what to expect... with that being said every experience is DIFFERENT and uniquely your own. With that being said, I hope this list can help prepare you more mentally for your life in Sevilla!
1. You might cry going through security... your parents can't come with you and saying your goodbyes are more than bittersweet.
2. If you are flying from Madrid into Sevilla, be prepared to run...and get a good sweat on! More often than not your flight boards almost as soon as you land there! ...Also, who in the heck designed the Madrid Airport? Be ready for a maze of walkways, elevators, stairs, and escalators! It's like a human game of shoots and ladders!
3. You get your passport stamped when you get into Madrid! YAY! ...sadly the only other stamp you may acquire may be in Morocco. It's not like in the movies when you travel and get a passport full of all these cool stamps! I was a bit disappointed by this :/
4. Once you get into Sevilla, if you arrive early...and stay at a hostel, I would recommend the Oasis Backpackers Palace, It's very close to the bus station and you could take a shuttle bus from the train station to here and is pretty easy to find. Also, the taxi from the airport is expensive, try to find a couple buddies to fill it up to split the costs! If you are arriving and being picked up by SAIIE, great! You won't have to deal with this at all! :D Oh, and try to get a map of the centro, it will help...to a degree! Streets are narrow and windy, and the street signs are actually on the buildings and not clearly marked like you are used to, all the offline maps in the world may not be of help.
5. You may or may not get jet-lagged and it may or may not hit you for a couple days. I arrived early and literally slept the first day. Want to know a great tip? Bring Ear plugs, music, and any necessary sleep remedies.
6. You know places like Walgreens where you can buy just about anything for a common cold or backache? ...yeah they don't exist in Spain. You may want to bring:
A. Tylenol or a general pain medication
B. Nyquil to get you through your first cold
C. Allergy meds
If you happen to get sick or are in need of medication, there are little Farmacías just about everywhere that have a doctor on site, who you can explain your symptoms and they will give you some options right there and then.
7. Once in the city you may encounter some really awesome people, like:
A. Street musicians (some may come right up to you when you are dining outside even!)
B. Homeless people
C. Gypsies... if you see them and they try to give you yerbas or ask to read your palm or beg you for money just try to tell them you don't have any
D. The helpful Spaniard! I happened to meet one of these! His name is Dario, he was my age and helped me find SAIIE! He works at a local flamenco bar and runs Pancho Tours! I can only hope you run into this great guy who speaks English, Spanish, and Italian.
8. There are cheap little convenience shops all around that are known as "chino shops" mainly because Chinese people run them. Here you can buy toiletries, food, beer, litros de agua, candy, and some are clothing stores.
9. Internet is the devil, try to stay off of your computing devices as much as possible during your trip... the less you spend online, the more you can spend exploring and taking in the city! If you need internet, school has it, cuesta sport, Mcdonalds, and Starbucks. Yes...American eateries exist but I challenge you to go "tapa hopping" as much as possible!
10. Oh the smell! Sevilla has a sewage and doggy doo-doo problem. Thankfully there are a lot of orange trees and flowers to mask the smell for most of the time.
11. Getting a prepago phone is a great idea at first, but you don't really need it, unless you have an emergency. We often made plans at school and met at the Plaza by school at the statue at a certain. Just saying that gives me such a nostalgic feeling!
12. Spain has a great nightlife! But don't "Super Tuesday" too hard! The bars are open until almost 5am somedays! If you go out, be sure to bring your party pants and most of all be safe! Travel in a group, bring only the cash you need, and your house keys! Speaking of the bars, a lot of places don't have public restrooms so brings some toilet paper out with you ladies just it case "nature calls!"
12. I bet you enjoy a nice vente latte mocha chillata from the Starbucks eh? Well the coffee in Spain is much MUCH SMALLER! It's about a shot of coffee to be exact. This was odd to be but I got used to it! It's actually stronger and better tasting than a watered down 20 oz of caffeinated sugar :P
13. Netflix, Pandora, Hulu... yeah they don't work here. But there are some work arounds! On the flip side don't waste your time on these sites or the work around, instead...GO OUTSIDE! You're in Spain! You can get all caught up when you're back! Watch some Spanish news and go buy your favorite bestseller book in Spanish... both will surely improve your vocabulary!
14. Mountain Dew... doesn't exist in Spain! Say hello to Coke and Fanta by soda drinking friends!
15. Taco Bell... does exist! One can be found in Malaga and the other in Madrid.