TO EASE ANXIETY:
- Pack like a badass. Roll up shirts and stuff them in every possible crevice, inside of shoes, wherever. 1 large suitcase, 1 duffel bag and 1 backpack is all you need.
- Pack basic necessities, plain tops you can wear with multiple outfits.
- Book a room at an Airbnb for one month. This way, you can take the proper time to find an apartment that fits you in a neighborhood you love.
- Once you have picked your neighborhood, search idealista. This website is the easiest way to find open rooms.
- Pack something you would only wear once.
- Rent an apartment without seeing it first. Hello, online scams.
- Rent the first apartment you look at. Give yourself time to find flat mates you truly click with.
December 4, 2015. A date I will never forget- the day I moved abroad. I had never been to Europe before and I fantasized everyday for months about what my new life would be like. I had so many plans for myself: become fluent in Spanish, ski the swiss alps, fall in love with a European. I was lucky enough to actually experience 1 of those 3.
I was overly anxious that December 4th day. I didn’t sleep for one second on the flight. My mind raced with thoughts- Who was I going to meet? Where was I going to get a job? Would I be able to find my way around? Wait, why am I doing this? What the fuck? I can’t believe i’m actually doing this. Breathe. Relax, you’re fine.
I arrived to Madrid and got lost at the Atocha train station. I frantically ran up to 3 different older men and women. “Hablas Ingles?” Negative. The machine wouldn’t accept my freshly crisp euros. WHAT IS GOING ON? A 70 year old Spaniard could sense my panic from a mile away.
He didn’t speak a word of English but he walked up, smiled and directed me to another ticket machine. (The one I was at wasn’t accepting cash). In broken Spanish I told him I was trying to go to Barcelona and he kindly helped me get my ticket, and walked me down to the platform where I would catch my train. We hugged and I thanked him. In that moment, I felt like he saved my life.
Over dramatic? Always.
Arriving to Barcelona was seamless, I hopped in a taxi and was dropped off at my home for the next month. There, on one of the narrowest streets in El Gotico, I met Seabass, my Airbnb flatmate. He helped me carry my luggage up 6 flights of stairs then gave me a tour. Even he could sense I was a nervous wreck. He got me a glass of water and we sat in the kitchen and got to know each other. Turns out, Seabass was moving back to South America in exactly 3 weeks.
Oh great, I thought. My first friend in my new country is leaving. WHY? Then he sparked a joint and began to play his guitar. I was so happy to be around someone who was so relaxed. He was trying to make me feel more at home. And I was thankful for that.
I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and was basically a walking zombie. I was invited to a pre party by a friend from back home, Gavyn. Lucky for me, his apartment was not even a 5 minute walk from my Airbnb.
That night, I met Gavyn’s girlfriend Rachel. It’s rare to meet people these days that can instantly make you feel like you’ve been best friends forever. Rachel, is one of those people.
In the corner, sitting against the wall smoking a cigarette was Mike and Allie. I thought they were cool as fuck. Ashley, Mark, Matt, Nick, Rosie and this angel who said hella 7 times in one sentence, Oakland’s finest, Erika. And then there was Reilly, a girl who intimidated the shit out of me with her black clothes, black hair, black lipstick, and the most piercing blue eyes you’ve ever seen.
Little did I know, these humans would be the kind of friends that turn into family.
It’s funny for me to think of this very significant day two years later. How much has changed.
You might be scared of what is to come. But today, I laugh, because I literally couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without ever knowing these people.
Walk out your front door and experience this: