9 Things You Need to Know before Exchanging in Spain
Do you dream or have you ever thought about doing an exchange in Spain? So find out in today’s text some curiosity and fundamental information to avoid problems and enjoy your experience there as much as possible.
Find a local news channel and stay informed
The first tip is even before boarding: start reading Spanish newspapers in Brazil. That way, you can get an idea of the main themes that are being discussed there and that have a direct impact on Spanish society. In addition to, of course, training your Spanish.
Most of these newspapers are available online, such as El Pais and ABC. And during your exchange in Spain, after classes start, consider buying some newspapers printed at newsstands. So you will be able to be up to date with what is happening while you are in your new country and from local sources. This is one of the best ways to start integrating into local society and culture.
Spain has recently been making headlines for a variety of social and political issues that are still under development, such as separatist movements in the autonomous communities of Catalonia and the Basque Country. Keep an eye on the news and what people are saying about the country on social media. Also try to find out on those same networks which hashtags are on the rise. This can reveal the most current and relevant issues.
Many commercial establishments accept cash only
Unlike Sweden, where credit / debit cards are used more than money on a daily basis, in Spain many places like restaurants, bars and markets only accept cash. This is even more common in smaller cities. So the tip there is always to travel with a small amount of money. But obviously it is always good to have a card, so try to get a debit or credit card free of charge for foreign transactions. And if you are going to spend a lot of time there, be sure to open an account with a Spanish bank.
Thefts are common (but preventable)
Unfortunately, thefts are a real thing in Spain and it even goes against this idea that everything in Europe is perfect (no, it’s not!). They are usually pickpockets that are concentrated mainly in areas with many tourists and almost never involve violence. In fact, they steal without the victim even realizing it at the time.
Always remember that the vast majority of scouts look for distracted people and easy opportunities to commit the offense. So to hinder their “work” and decrease the chances of being robbed, it is important to follow some tips:
- Do not put your cell phone or wallet in the back bag of your pants / shorts
- Keep your backpack / bag always in front of you
- Don’t carry all your money
- Always have a copy of your passport (never carry the original) and a backup credit card
You will learn to enjoy life
This is a general statement, but Spaniards generally strive to make the most of their days and company. From spending hours together over a meal to taking naps to spending time with your kids or resting, many of the stereotypes about life in Spain are actually symptoms of an effort to really enjoy life. The time over there is designed to move slowly. So when you go to exchange in Spain, you will inevitably learn to slow down, stop stressing about small things and stop being in a hurry for everything.
Likewise, meals are an “event” in itself. There, these moments should be enjoyed together, and the meal is the central focus of the experiences. From the famous tapas in the bars to dinners with friends, food there is almost an excuse to be with loved ones. It is normal, for example, for a family to sit down to lunch and have their neighbors and friends join them at the table, eating and drinking until it is time to order food.
Make friends by trying the local language
Although you may think that everyone in Spain speaks Spanish (and they do!), There are also other languages that are used around the country. They are Galician-Portuguese, Catalan, Basque and Occitan. When you arrive to do an exchange in Spain, find out if there is any other language commonly spoken in the city / region that you will be staying, besides Spanish. If so, try to learn at least a few sentences. The locals will respect you a lot for trying to connect with them in their language, even if you don’t do very well at the rs rs.
Take advantage of student discounts
There are many discount programs available for international students in Spain. One tip is to make the International Student Identity Card, which offers discounts for students on tours, trips and establishments. And the best part is that it is quite popular throughout Europe, so if you plan to travel to other countries during your exchange in Spain, this card can represent a good economy.
Venture out of your comfort zone (you won’t regret it!)
It can be really tiring to be in a completely new environment and with new people at all times. But make an effort to take a stroll in a new neighborhood after class or have a coffee somewhere new each week (preferably away from the most touristic places). Making an exchange means coming across different experiences and knowing how to take advantage of them. And let’s agree that in Spain this is very easy and will also help you feel more connected to the local community.
Spanish fashion is underestimated
When it comes to Fashion and Europe, most people immediately think of Italy and France. But Spain is also a leading country in this area and in all major cities in the country it is possible to find great stores for shopping and perhaps even for lower prices than in these other countries.
Take advantage of travel opportunities (also within Spain!)
Many people see studies abroad as a platform to study a little and travel a lot and this is especially true in Europe, where everything is very close. But before booking all weekends with trips to other countries, consider what you can learn from exploring Spain itself.
Spending a few weekends getting to know more of your host country and the city where you are going to exchange in Spain will teach you a lot about the different cultures of the country. Venturing into a nearby city on your own, for example, is an inexpensive way to travel and learn a lot!