To get around the UK plug annoyance, use something plastic in the top hole of the UK socket to open the safety shutter.
I like to use a biro lid.
Going to Spain for a while? Here are some technotips.
(Almost) everyone uses it here, as many people don’t have phone contracts. It’s also great for keep in contact with your friends at home
2. Get a YOIGO sim
I tried various pay as you go sims, and I like Yoigo because calls are too expensive, their phones are unlocked and relatively cheap (you can buy a two sim card phone NEW for 140e), and their customer service is not completely terrible. You can also pay 7e a month for 3G, which is really useful if you move to a place where internet takes a thousand years to install.
Don’t forget to bring your passport to buy whatever sim card you end up getting; it’s an anti-terror measure here that you can’t buy a phone sim without ID.
3. Bring an extender cable from your country
You can buy travel plugs in Spain, but instead of buying 5 or 6 individual ones for your phone, laptop, hairdryer etc, why not bring an extension cable with you from your country?
Wall>>>travel plug>>>extender cable
Also, for UK travellers, remember that if you buy electronics in other European countries, you can (usually) shove them in to a British socket by sticking something plastic into the top hole of the plug socket, like this:
I like to use a good old biro lid. It’s the perfect size for opening the safety shutter.
If you’re planning on going home at Christmas… BUY YOUR FLIGHTS NOW, in August, or else pay double.
A) Buy your flights 6 months before (yes, in August)
B) Fly on the 23rd of December at the latest
If there are random volcanoes, strikes, or ice, you won’t get marooned somewhere (there are no trains/buses on Christmas day)
C) Tell your school in your first month when you’re flights are. Offer to make it up.
I worked in a really difficult, uptight school, where we were told that Christmas wasn’t a Spanish holiday and… Basically, be assertive. Don’t let anyone mess with your Christmas with your family.
Best place to buy US flights:
If you’re under 26, you can get great deals using this site.
Good peanut butter
Stationary (coloured flashcards, thank you cards)
Shampoo and conditioner (there is little tax on wine, beer, and cigarettes, but cosmetic items are more expensive)
Anti-histamines (only on prescription)
Spice blends (Chinese Five Spice) Note: You may be able to find spices in specific neighbourhoods where non-Spanish people live. In Madrid, many corner shops have a great range of spices for South Asian food.
Hair cuts (Spanish hair dressers tend to chop a lot off)
Sport’s bras (buy an extra at Target/New Look)
Things that may be cheaper:
Fruit and veg
Contraceptive pill/merina ring/nuva ring/IUD (some are 4e a month, others are 15e a month)
Care Packages from Outside of the EU
Make sure the sender fills out the customs form properly, or you will have to pay 40e at your end 😦
Getting charged for withdrawals from your home bank is a big pain in the butt, and your Spanish paperwork will take a while, meaning it might be a few months before you have a bank here.
I use a Halifax Clarity. It’s the top rated card on the above article, and I was already with Halifax anyway.
??????????????????? LET ME KNOW WHAT THE BEST BANK FOR AMERICANS TRAVELLING IS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW OR EMAIL Humphries.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sabadell allowed me to have an account without a NIE (Spanish resident number).
I changed from them to ING as Sabadell have two types of account (depending on how much you get paid each month), whereas ING offer free transfers no matter what. They also have this nifty friend invite thing where if your friend is already with them, you both get 32.50e (they say more, but that’s not including the tax) to change to them.
I recently read an article that referred to the word “expat” as something:
In the Western lexicon of human migration there are still lot of remnants of a white supremacist ideology, with hierarchical classes of words created to differentiate White people from the rest of humanity, with the purpose of putting White people above everyone else.
I’d never thought about it before. What is the difference between an “immigrant” and an “expat”?
There were various answers in the comments below the above quoted article. One difference tends to be duration. An expat is planning on returning within a short time, an immigrant is planning on staying longer term. Another might be integration. An expat is more likely to be working in a language they speak very well (like English) and not have much opportunity/motivation to learn the local language, whereas an immigrant would most likely be working in the local language and have more chance of becoming proficient.
As someone who has been living abroad for several years, I came to understand the negative side of “expat”. As an “anglo”, people automatically assumed you know nothing about local customs, often resent your presence as you have “stolen” a local person’s job, expect you to speak their language perfectly immediately, constantly expect you to “integrate” (meaning laughing at their jokes about you). I took a million language classes, I changed my clothes (to blend in), and I breathed a sigh of relief, and something very simple finally clicked.
People of colour cannot change their clothes as I can. They cannot camouflage themselves. It might seem obvious to someone from a multicultural society, but for me, it took the experience of moving out of my “home” country to teach me about privilege.
I thought about all the times my non-white British friends had mentioned racism to me, or I had witnessed the aftermath of a racist incident. I had sometimes said (in my head) at the time: “It’s not that big a deal. Why are they so upset? People say shit to me all the time”.
Then I got it. I can lose weight. I can cut my hair. I can work at conforming. They can’t ever conform physically. And why should they? (Oh crumb nuggets. This was my privilege to only just realise this now. Wha?????!!!!)
I think the tone of the above quoted article is a good example of how a person writes when they are angry after years upon years of unpleasant personal experiences (see “Favourite quotes, below), let alone generation upon generation of colonialism. It’s a rare gift to be able to be keyed up about a subject, like race/colonialism/sexism, without attacking the readers who you may be trying to educate in to reconsidering their positions. It’s a skill I must confess that I have not yet acquired. I know this because many of the blog posts I write I am unable to publish as they too are full of ire. It can take many drafts before I convert my spleen into something that might be considered balanced, bordering on informative.
Favourite quotes from the original article:
Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period.
If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there!
Favourite quotes from NYT article cited in: “Don’t Call Them Expats”
A more current interpretation of the term “expat” has more to do with privilege. Expats are free to roam between countries and cultures, privileges not afforded to those considered immigrants or migrant workers.
But Hong Kong will extend all of its rights and protections to me once I’ve lived here for seven years–though I often get the feeling there isn’t much expectation of reciprocity, the way immigrants to the United States are expected to learn English and adopt a certain set of values.
UPDATE: A “cleaner” (less angry, attacking) version of the Silicon Africa article was featured in this Guardian article