June 01, 2018

A Screwdriver Is A Great Fix For A Broken Washer Handle: A Guide to Working in Spain

Throw away the notion of a comfort zone, but also be kind to your limits & necessary habits. Disregard the first idea for growth & accept the second as giving yourself ammo for more exploration later.
by Madeline Nicholson
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Serious* Travel Hacks

*pronounced with meme-level sarcasm

  • Flaming hot Cheetos brought back after Christmas break will cause an all-out witch circle of joy. (Use this power tip with caution!)

  • Read Vogue to learn the local language if a book is too much effort in your gap year. Plus, you’ll have beautiful spreads to decorate your bedroom walls.

  • Bring an apple & jamón serrano with you as you go hostel hunting at 21h in Cuenca, asking if they have room for that night. When they all say, “No, estamos completo.” You’ll have a dinner ready to eat on the banks of the river.

  • Be prepared for the one available Bla Bla car driver to cancel on you just because he felt like leaving earlier. Reward your patience with a long, long lunch to strategize. Watch the winter Olympics across the room in an attempt to “Rocky” this knockout.

  • A screwdriver is a great fix for a broken washer handle.

  • Make a bag of popcorn, then put it under your sheets as a heater.

  • Age ≠ consideration & smarts. Don’t expect older roommates to understand co-living. Specifically, depend on yourself to buy toilet paper & pay the bills before time runs out.

  • A frying pan, pot, & oven tray is enough for any dream meal.

  • A student ID card can get you into many a museum free. *s/o to US universities for not having an end date on them!*

  • Invest in a hot water bottle heater. Don’t turn on your heat! Save those resources for flights & theatre tickets.

  • Flip your clothes inside out every few hours; they’ll dry in one day instead of three.

  • Pack no more than three of an item. No worry of being an “outfit repeater”. Save the pounds for art supplies. Or your pillow. Say yes to the pillow. One of the best pieces of advice.

  • Guaranteed, the Saw series will solidify any roommate bond. Best spread out over months so you forget the finer plot points and with each jump cut go, “What? Who is he? Do you remember?” What a brain exercise.

I Want to Play a Game. Trade in Monopoly for Scrabble

  • Count how many friends have the same .75 cent linen-scented soap in their piso.

  • Open Google Maps after arriving at the town and just bop around the map to see if there are hostels, parks, museums, or bars, and then go from there. Happy weekend!

  • Say yes to travel ideas thrown around at brunch. The only logistic you need to worry about is a flight. (That’s how I ended up in the Canary Islands in Santa Cruz, Tenerife for Carnaval 2018. S/o to Maura! She also threw out Morocco & we’re going next week.)

Apps to Live By When 1 Euro

is Your Meal Budget:

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For Independence & Mental Comfort

While in Motion:

  • Moovit: Available in almost any city worldwide. Has every public transportation route & live time shows the current stop.

  • Bla Bla Car: Ride sharing app for travel (though it’s not like Lyft). Even as a woman, I have fewer safety worries about creeps because you can choose your driver.

  • Google Maps: To check your location while on the Bla Bla Car rides… just for extra security ;).

For Excursions:

  • Google what you want then go to their Facebook page. I know, right?? Incredibly, Spain exists on word of mouth versus official websites. If you can’t ask a person on the street because you’re still on a computer, ask for details through a Facebook message.

  • Oferplan: Spain’s off-brand Groupon.

For ANY Language:


  • WhatsApp: The lifeblood of Europe (and one day the world, I hope). iMessage is a dinosaur compared.

Example of Stories to Tell Your Parents AFTER You’ve Returned:

That you've...

  • Walked 40 minutes on an active highway at 7 a.m. against traffic because Google Maps took you and there was no bus option. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Scuba dove in the Mediterranean with a broken BAR air reader. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Stood from 2-6 a.m. in a 24-hour McDonalds room in Madrid (the main restaurant was closed) while waves of partiers half-sung their orders because you didn’t have a hostel and refused to pay because you just needed a place until the sun came up. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Taken too much advantage of the 1 euro for 3 napolitanas at your local bakery. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • Others upon request…

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Follow Madeline Nicholson’s experience while working in Spain through her blog
or instagram @made.lines57.