Pre-Departure (Packing, Housing, etc.)
Hey! Welcome to mi casa, my blog, or whatever you want to call it. I figured that I might as well do a little introduction of myself (that goes a little deeper than the Q&A on my profile) for those of you that need a recap of the famous Miguel Sabol (jk not that famous) or those of you that are new (say hi, don’t be shy). I am writing this blog to catalog my adventures in Spain this next school year, but it will also contain helpful tips and thoughts by yours truly in regards to living abroad and traveling.
My name is Miguel Sabol (my last name is pronounced “say-bole”) but I answer to a wide variety of nicknames. I have a big family (there’s 8 of us), and I love them, they are pretty cool (when they want to be), and I will for sure be missing them this year. This year I will be completing (hopefully) my second year of university (albeit in a different country than where I started), and if you read my quote (attached to my profile above) you will probably have guessed that I don’t exactly know what it is I want to do with the rest of my life. But I really would like to do something. It’s just that I don’t know what right now.
As for things I like to do: I play tennis a lottttttt, like really, and I am on the UNM Club Team (shoutout to those guys and girls. Love you guys, and I am going to miss all of you!!) I also love playing an watching soccer (I should get used to calling it football since I’m off to Europe soon). I like to play (or at least try) all the sports although I am not that great at some such as basketball and water polo (jk I’ve never played). While I love playing sports, it is just as probable that you find me with a book in my hand than with a tennis racket. Favorite books/series/authors: Percy Jackson series, The Ring of the Slave Prince, Throne of Glass series, Harry Potter series (of course), and books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I would say that I am a pretty friendly person, though my friendship does come with a lot of sarcasm and confusing statements. I love hanging out with friends or just talking to random people, I am a pretty easy-going person and like to have conversations with everyone. I am always trying to learn new stuff, and I am one of those people that enjoy going to school (just how it is sorry). And those are a couple of the reasons I am studying abroad and really enjoy traveling because when you travel you invariably learn and meet new people. I also just love traveling and all the associated pains and fun.
It is worth noting that this will not be my first time studying abroad. Nor my first time studying abroad in Spain. I studied abroad during my junior year of high school (2015-16) (yes the entire year) (picture to the left should be of the end of that year). I liked it so much I said I have to go back, and here we are August 2018, 3 years from the time I left to Spain for the first time, going back. I did not, however, live in Madrid when I was last living in Spain; I lived with a host family in Valladolid. I am looking forward to some sweet new experiences in Spain living in the big city (3.16 million people in the city and 6.47 million people in the metro!!!!). I also kept a blog that year, and if you are interested then here is the link: myspainishadventures.blogspot.com. And this year, I look forward to sharing my adventures this year on The Pack with you guys!
That is pretty much it… that I can think of right now… (I am sure I forgot things).
Follow me on Instagram to keep up with the trip in real time @miguel_sabol
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me! Feel free to message me on Instagram or just shoot me an email at email@example.com. Like I said I love talking to and meeting new people so if you think of something or have a suggestion let me know!
Author’s Note: You may have noticed by now that I use a lot of parentheses, that is my “aside voice” (or whatever it should be called). I also have it in real life, and you kinda just have to get used to it because I write in an almost, semi-planned, not really stream-of-consciousness in which most of the thoughts I have to get written down as well. (Also just realized that I use a lot of indentations and new paragraphs… gotta keep my thoughts separated somehow!)
Pre-Departure (Packing, Housing, etc.)
Leaving home is difficult. Home can be wherever you define it, whether in a person, a house, a family, a city, state, or country. Regardless, leaving it behind is difficult. The whole “pre-departure” process is not something that anyone usually takes lightly. I mean, even if you are just going on a small trip, I am sure that you have a TON of pre-departure anxiety or stress because of the millions of what if’s that are running through your mind (I didn’t even want to try to put down all of them that I could think of; there are too many). Imagine that on a year-long trip scale (it’s kinda rough tbh). This is my second time doing this, and I thought it would be a lot better, but it’s not that much better in the terms of having to leave things behind and hoping that you have all you need. I am a bit more prepared this time around; I know what to expect, what I need, and I have an idea of what is going to happen for the next year, but I still would not consider myself “stress-free” or even “ready” (There is a difference between prepared and ready. I am prepared, but not exactly ready.) The emotional aspect of “pre-departure” is different for everyone, but something that happens whether you think it will happen or not.
Housing has been the biggest threat to my mental and emotional stability (this is not a joke actually). I am only 19 years old, and I haven’t exactly had very much (any) experience in house-hunting. And let me tell you it SUCKS. Wow. Like dannggg (I don’t think I’m allowed to cuss on the blog so DANG). After I complained, some adults told me things like “welcome to adulthood” and “tell me about it”, but I don’t think they fully grasped that I have been house-hunting almost every day for a month for a place that it over 5,700 miles away, that I cannot see, in a city I know very little about (except that is was nice to visit last time I lived there). I wanted this part to be easy, and honestly, if it were easy I might have been able to have a lot more fun this summer, but it was not that easy. I came out of it not even really having any tips for other people except PERSIST, even if you don’t want to, I am sure that your future self will thank you for having a bed and maybe even a room. Plus, there are really a lot of places out there.
What happened to me was that I really wanted to just get into the dorms at UC3M (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) because that would have been simple and I would not have had to deal with that many things, but that did not happen. The university doesn’t have that many dorm rooms, and so I (and a lot of other people I met online) were waitlisted. So we all (plus all the people that didn’t even apply for the dorms) had to look for apartments or rooms or host families to stay with. I started at the beginning of July, and I only got good meaningful responses back now at the beginning of August. I guess that is just how life works (and Spaniards renting houses in Madrid).
While talking to other exchange students and others looking for places to live, we frequently shared similar experiences of people not responding and websites that were never updated. These things are the kind of things that you really just have to take in stride and not get too mad when you send 10 emails and 5 WhatsApps and get 3 responses back. Sometimes all three of which were the owner saying that the rooms were no longer available. You just have to keep on trying, and you can’t get too discouraged (there are actually a lot of empty places in a city like Madrid, you just have to find them). Below I am going to make a list of the websites that I used in my search for a place to live. If you are reading this because you are going to stay in Madrid, take my advice and use every single one of them that you can. It is overwhelming, but sometimes it is the only way. Also, use the university website, they usually have good sites and discounts on their site. More updates on my own housing situation later, I do NOT want to jinx anything at this point. I would be very sad.
My list of housing sites: https://www.idealista.com/en/, https://www.beroomers.com, https://www.uniplaces.com, https://housinganywhere.com/Madrid–Spain, https://www.spotahome.com, https://www.comfortsofmadrid.com/uc3m, https://www.madrideasy.com/en, http://salyven.net/en/, and http://www.emes.es/VivirenMadrid/Alojamientoestudiantes/tabid/219/Default.aspx.
Packing is one thing that has gotten a lot clearer for me over the years and seems a lot easier this time around. I am a little more than a week away from leaving home, and I have just started to look at my clothes (although I have been thinking about them throughout the summer). Soon I will get out my suitcase and begin to fit my clothes into it. But a lot of the uncertainty of what to pack is diminished this time around. Honestly, if you have looked up how to pack for a trip or for a study abroad then you will only be getting the same advice from me. Pack light. Less is sooooo much more on a trip of the “study abroad scale.” It is hard, but it pays off. In the end, you have a lot fewer things to bring back and you have room for the items you accumulated over the year (trust me you accumulate a ton of stuff) and even gifts! This is hard for me because I am usually an over-packer. Like WAY over packer. I don’t even want to talk about the first time I went to Spain and the things I carried in between the two countries without ever touching them. Clothes are the worrstttt. I mean I might wear it, right? This year I hope to get better at packing minimally and figuring out exactly how much I need to pack. I will keep you updated on that as we go.
If you don’t really know how I am feeling, and you’re just here to read my mildly entertaining blog, I want you to try an exercise. Think about what you would take on a weekend (2 day) trip to a friend’s house near you. Probably some clothes, your phone, a charger, an extra pair of shoes, a jacket, and some toiletries. Now imagine on the same trip you have to write an essay for a class or a report for work the next day. Add that stuff. Maybe that would include your laptop, laptop charger, paper, pen, pencil, and some headphones. Now imagine that you’re planning on going hiking on this trip as well into the mountains where it is going to rain. Now you have to bring hiking boots, a bigger jacket maybe, more clothes, and a backpack for that. Hey! Don’t forget some nice clothes, we have to go to church on Sunday, as well. So you put in a change of your nice clothes, a button-up, some khakis, or a dress. Cool, you’re all set for your little excursion (I hope you have good time management skills and a car to take that all in).
Okay, that was an interesting exercise that I just made up as I wrote along. It’s not really an exercise since I gave you all the answers, but that’s okay. Now imagine that your friend’s house is 5,700 miles away and you have to stay there for a year and you can’t forget anything. Oh and don’t let me forget my tennis racket! I don’t know if this poorly thought through exercise will make any difference on how you feel, but an easier way to say it is just imagine taking everything you need to live (minus easily purchasable items) with you and moving to a different country. Oh and don’t forget… you only have one suitcase and one backpack. Good luck!
Don’t think that all is bad or negative or difficult. I am super excited to be going to Spain and attending university there. Change is difficult, packing your life into two bags is difficult, but it is also an adventure, and those are (usually) fun. I look forward to an amazing year full of new and exciting experiences, and I look forward to you guys reading about it! (Sorry about the blog being pretty long, but thanks for reading it anyways.)