Warning: this post might trigger several “Ughs!!”.
If you follow any travel bloggers on Instagram, you’ve probably seen or heard all the beautiful pictures and exciting stories.
But what you probably haven’t seen or heard as much are the headaches and frustrations that come with moving to a foreign country alone.
Well, not to deceive you but because we don’t want to sound like we’re complaining all the time. And who really wants to hear about our “PROBLEMS” in paradise?
But if you ARE interested, then read on, my friend! Here are four real-life situations that happened to me in Spain that I wasn’t sure if I should cry or laugh about.
1. Weird Airbnb Experience
During my second week in Bilbao, I stayed in a really–how should I say this–odd Airbnb. The ratings were mixed but because it was last minute, I took a chance. Bad idea.
Red flag #1
The Airbnb description implied only one resident (the owner) but when I showed up, there was her, her two kids, and a brother. But wait, there’s more.
Red flag #2
There was no lock on the outside of my room! I could lock it from the inside but not from the outside. And when I inquired about it, the woman assured me it was “safe.”
Red flag #3
Things kept disappearing. First the shampoo, then the body soap, then the hot water. I wish I was joking.
So why didn’t I just leave?
Honestly? I was too tired. Plus, they didn’t seem malicious and nothing terrible happened to me besides the fact that I wasn’t able to shower on the last two days.
But a week later…
I discovered something was missing from my suitcase. And the worst part was I had no idea if I left it in my house in New York or if they took it! Because there was no lock on the door.
Lesson learned: don’t stay at Airbnbs with mixed reviews.
2. Scumbag Landlords
In my third week of Spain, I moved into a semi-permanent home for about a month. I paid at the beginning of the month and was told I would have to pay utilities separately after my stay. “Fine,” I thought.
Except it wasn’t.
A few weeks after I left, I received a message saying I owed 110€.
That’s $124 USD for 5 weeks with no heat and no WiFi.
But without jumping to the conclusion, I asked around to see if that was the normal rate first. Surely enough, all my co-workers told me that was WAY too much.
So to make a long story short, I contested the bill and asked for proof. But she couldn’t provide any so she cut the bill in HALF.
How do these people sleep at night?
Lesson learned: stand up for yourself and always ask for proof no matter how “nice” the person seems.
3. The SIM Card that Never Arrived
A few weeks into my move, I ordered a Spanish SIM card but it never arrived. My tracking shows it came several times but I waited by my door like a house-cat and nothing ever arrived.
I tried leaving them notes, calling the company to reschedule the delivery and even tried changing the mailing address but still, it never showed up.
In the end, they returned my package to the company and CANCELLED my order.
Lesson learned: ask people how mail works FIRST before ordering anything (or just don’t order anything online in Spain).
4. The Never-Ending Refund Circus
Oh, why oh WHY do I have so many phone problems??
On a separate occasion, I was charged by a phone company accidentally.
So what did I do?
I went to the phone store THREE times (a 75-minute bus ride each way, BTW) and had to explain the situation over and over again in Spanish. Mind you, I only knew enough to order coffee and wine at this point.
And I couldn’t just “call” because I had no SIM card (see above)!
On top of all that, I had to go get copies of my bank statements and it was a whole mess that I never want to think about again.
And still, the refund is nowhere to be seen.
Lesson learned: sh*t happens but you have to move on.
So yes, moving to a foreign country is WONDERFUL and EXCITING. But it is also PAINFUL and MESSY.
But despite all that, I’m still happy to be here.
And as the Spaniards like to say, “tranquilo,” everything will be alright.