1. Bring a watch: there are no clocks in the classrooms, at least not in the San Boal building where my classes are, and some teachers depend on the students to tell them when class needs to end.
2. Pack lots of GOOD socks: You’ll be walking a lot (no matter where you are in Europe) and no matter how good your shoes are, eventually your socks are going to get really worn out, especially if they weren’t in the newest condition to begin with.
3. Bring over-the-counter meds with you or at least a list of the ones you use and their generic names: If you ever get sick, it’s not that complicated to go to the doctor (just email the ISA office and they’ll help you out), but it also helps to have the medications with you that you KNOW are the ones that will work for you, so that you can take care of business even faster.
4. Definitely pack a carry-on-sized suitcase: I’m going to need to buy a small suitcase before I leave, I think because I did this silly thing called “going shopping” and bought myself some new things, as well as Christmas presents for my entire family, and there is no way all of this new stuff will be able to fit in my suitcase, even though it is pretty big.
5. HOW TO DRESS: I spent a week worrying about how to dress here because I didn’t want to stick out too much as an American and, as a general rule, I can’t really be considered “fashionable.” I think I have finally figured out how to break it down for both men and women (each level builds on each other, so, a level 3 woman wears her hair down, a scarf, boots and a leather jacket nearly everyday):
- Level 1: A pea coat (or similar) or track jacket
- Level 2: NOT sneakers
- Level 3: Scarf
- Level 4: Satchel (Indiana Jones has one and so do many European men)
- Level 1: Scarf & hair loose
- Level 2: Boots (almost always with pants or leggings tucked inside)
- Level 3: Leather jacket or pea coat
- Level 4: Dress like the mannequins
BONUS: Food Recommendations These are a few of my favorite restaurants around the city, and I highly recommend you check them out!
- Crossainteria Paris for waffles with chocolate (Rua Mayor, past Restaurante Gran Chino)
- Cafe Novelty for ice cream (Plaza Mayor, under the clock)
- Gino’s for Italian (In the train station)
- Pans & Company has the best sandwiches ever, especially for a fast-food restaurant (Calle Prior, just off the Plaza Mayor)
- Leonardo’s to cap off a fun night with friends (get the #74, ham, cheese & fried egg sandwich; multiple locations around Calle Prior and Gran Via)
- Valor for Churros y Chocolate (C/Libreros by the University Facade)