It’s that time of year again! A new wave of English teachers await the day they will move to Spain. Oh, don’t you love the ridiculous profex system, Skype interviews, and scrambling for visa appointments? Fun! Last year I spent so much timeon these things that I didn’t prepare myself for the most important part: knowing wtf to pack for my 8 month stint abroad. As most of you can figure, things are a little different halfway across the globe. Some of our favorite foods and products aren’t available, or come at a significant surcharge. With that being said, here’s my personal list of recommendations on what to pack before you move to Spain. Mind you, this is from my personal experience/perspective, so everything may not be relevant to you – but I hope it helps!
If you’re a woman with big feet like me, you’d better pack all the shoes you need. You have a better chance of finding a needle in 100 lbs of hay than you do finding a store that goes above 9. Primark is the best option for size 10 particularly, but I find their shoes run really narrow. If you’re a 10.5 or larger, you can just give up hope right now. One time I literally visited every shoe store in Madrid’s largest mall and couldn’t find 1 pair in my size. I ended up having to buy mens shoes from Forever 21. Que pena.
Ranch sauce. Caesar dressing. Hot sauce. Good BBQ. Maple syrup. These are things you don’t know you can’t live without until you have to live without them. I wasn’t a fan of Spanish food, so these were especially important. Whether it’s cooking your own meals at home, or adding some flavor to a particularly bland dish – you definitely want to throw some sauces in your luggage.
For some unknown reason (perhaps to keep me humble), God has not yet delivered me from breakouts. In fact, I made a detailed video about how the health of my hair and skin deteriorated while living overseas. I guess no one in Spain can relate, because I rarely found acne products anywhere. I checked pharmacies, beauty stores, and supermarkets, only to find the same 1-2 things (usually Garnier breakout control). To be fair, there are places like Body Shop and Yves Rocher, but my fellow ultra sensitive-skinned friends know that you shouldn’t up and switch products/regimen if you don’t have to. If you have a staple acne arsenal, I strongly suggest you pack enough to last you the entire trip.
Are you 5’8″ or taller looking for pants that aren’t cropped 4 inches above your ankles? Aww precious, you must be new here. Jajajajajajajaja. For real though, finding long pants in any country is hard enough as it is. If you have some that fit, you better pack. that. shit.
I packed 5 of my favorite deodorants before moving to Spain, so I didn’t have a chance to try any their notorious antiperspirant. From what I hear, the products are very weak. Like you’re sweating within 30 minutes of putting it on weak. Speaking from personal experience, the same thing happened to me when I switched to natural deodorant. My body was so used to the metals/chemicals of other brands that I ended up having to detox my armpits with bentonite calcium clay. Now I’ve been using it for more than a year, and it keeps me fresh all day long. So basically, you have two options here. Bring your own deodorant from home, or detox your pits and use Spain’s.
NATURAL HAIR CARE
If you’re a fellow natural, you know products are the holy grail of hair care. In Madrid you can find lots of familiar products like Cantu, Shea Moisture, Aunt Jacky’s, and more…but be prepared to pay top euro. Shea Moisture is typically the most expensive, ranging 17-20 euros per bottle. Cantu and Aunt Jacky’s are a bit more reasonable, from 8-15 euros. Point here is you can save yourself a lot of money if you bring what you’ll need ahead of time. I packed 1 shampoo and conditioner, which barely got me by, but NOWHERE near enough everyday moisturizer. And by the way, you’ll definitely want to pack your own Jamaican Black Castor Oil.