Before you arrive in Salamanca
We have created our own checklist of what to do before moving to Europe that we used for our current trip that you can reference. You’ll notice that it’s clear that it’s very personal to our own list of to-dos before moving, but we thought we’d share it with you anyway. We strongly recommend you read the below details on what to-do in detail before you leave, as the provided “Moving to Europe Checklist” is just that, a brief checklist. Here is a great ten-minute tutorial video we found about the city of Salamanca, Spain.
Before you arrive in Salamanca you’ll want to take care of the following:
1. Learn basic Spanish
Before your arrival in Salamanca, the first thing you need to do is learn basic Spanish. We’ve detailed a list of general phrases that will be good for you to know. This will be helpful for you to get a basic start at getting around, as very few residents of Salamanca speak any other language besides Spanish. If you find yourself with no other option than to ask for something in English, the best person to ask would be a young person. You’re going to have to profile, but it’s likely that the Spanish youth have a basic knowledge of English. If you plan on being in Salamanca for an extended period of time, you’ll need to brush up on your Spanish. There are tons of options for language schools in Salamanca that specialize in teaching Spanish to foreigners. We attended Colegio Delibes on Av. de Italia. You should keep in mind that one semester in a US College-level Spanish course equals two weeks of class in language school in Spain. It’s not just because of the immersion, the small class conversations are a large factor contributing to exponential growth.
2. Check your passport expiration
Make sure your passport will be valid for your return to the US.
3. Consider how to pack
Make sure to pack really light. Even if you are moving there, bring VERY little. This cannot be said enough. If you have even the slightest hesitation that you brought too much, you did. And if you think you didn’t pack enough, you probably packed too much. We have created a list of things you’ll need to pack in a separate article, as well as a brief checklist here.
•If you use a luggage tag, have it covered
•Don’t pack IDs, tickets, cash or other important documents out of your constant sight
•Consider putting locks on your suitcases, locking all of your zippers together
Part of avoiding getting mugged, is behaving smart as well. Hate to say it but try not to act like a stereotypical loud, drunk American and make yourself a target.
(we just returned for the 2014 summer and here are some packing regrets thus far)
4. CYA: Photocopy emergency documents
Make sure you have photocopies of emergency documents. keep one stashed somewhere with you and one with a trusted family member or friend (or at your US home with your friend or family member knowing how to access it in the event of an emergency). The following documents should be photocopied:
•Credit/Debit cards (front and back)
5. Mail forward, reduce identity theft risks while abroad
Do not just set up a mail forward with the post office. To reduce identity risks, you’ll want to go to each place that you receive mail from and update everything to your new permanent address, whether that be to your parent’s address, friends address, a P.O Box, wherever. If you do this online, expect your credit are to get charged $1 for the “change of address” to process, this charge is the best way for the post office to double check that the same person is processing the ‘change of address’ request.
You will also want to contact an agency that is able to stop sending you junk mail so that you can further protect your identity while abroad. In fact, you may want to set an alert on your account while you’re abroad. Here are some numbers:
•Stop Junk Mail with Consumer FTC
•Mail forward with USPS
•Set up a Mint.com account or regularly check your bank account online to ensure your account has not been jeopardized while abroad.
•Set up an alert at social security monitoring sites like Lifelock.com
6. Notify Banks and Credit Cards
Let your banks and credit card issuers know that your will be abroad and what countries you will be in. If you don’t do this your accounts may get frozen and you will not have access to your money.
7. Get your apartment settled
We have written an article on how to find an apartment in Salamanca. Generally, whenever we have moved to Salamanca, we have lined up a list of apartments to look at when we arrive. Contact the apartment managers for their availability. If you find one you really like, you can let the manager know that you are interested in moving in and that you’ll arrive within a few days.
You’ll want to make sure that you have enough extra money on hand to pay for your deposit. Be ready to give cash to your landlord when you arrive. We are setting aside around 400 euros for a deposit, it’s very unlikely that we’ll need that much for an apartment deposit, unless we’re getting a one bedroom.
8. Jail break phone
You will want to bring with you a jail broken or unlocked phone that takes sim cards. You can look up online how to do this or you can find shops that sell broken/unlocked phones. For us, Kyle’s terminating his contract with his current cell company and taking his phone to a local shop that will unlock or break his phone. We’ve heard two opposing things on the new iPhone, some say that it accepts sim cards, and some say that it doesn’t so we’ll have to verify with the phone guy when he unlocks it that it can in fact be unlocked to use sim cards over seas.
I will be purchasing a cheap unlocked phone from that shop. If you have an old phone that you aren’t using, you can look into unlocking that one as well.
Once we land, we’ll probably look into getting sim card and phone minutes at the airport or the nearest phone shop.
There are some really great articles online about how to unlock a cell phone. This article from Forbes has some information about unlocked phones from different carriers. For example, all Verizon phones come already unlocked.
9. Open a Schwab account
We just learned that Charles Schwab has zero international fees. If you are able to open an account with them before you travel, you would be saving your self a bundle of cash. We have detailed transaction fees while abroad in an article called Traveling Overseas with Your Credit Card.