Spain—beaches, sun, warm weather, right? Well, not in Pamplona. It’s nice, but not balmy—Pamplona is to Missouri as southern Spain is to Texas. The weather is, however, more temperate than in Columbia, Mo. It’s not as cold in the winter, but it also doesn’t get as warm in the spring. February is typically the coldest month, with many days being less than 0°, Celsius that is. (It’s also not a bad idea to start brushing up on Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion).
So as you pack for your semester, bring warm clothes that can easily be layered. People won’t shed their winter clothes until the very end of the semester. Scarves, coats, boots and tights are still common even when it’s 65°F.
The fairly consistent weather makes it easy to pack. Don’t fret thinking you need to bring 10,000 outfits, because while the Spanish dress nicely, they also don’t have as many clothes as your typical American. They wear high quality clothing and then layer and accessorize. I frequently saw my classmates repeat the same outfits every week.
Sorry guys, my clothing advice is mainly for the ladies. But here are some things to throw into your suitcase and some things you can leave at home.
Thick socks: My roommate Bridget lovingly called thick, wool hiking socks, “European socks.” They work well under boots and keep your feet warm as you spend lots of time walking outside.
Cardigans: Cardigans, blazers or any type of layering pieces are super popular. One friend who studied in France made the astute observation that the French wear the same few articles of clothing, but just layer and accessorize them differently.
Scarves: Guys, listen up. Scarves are also a commonly worn by guys, and not just as an outerwear item. Males and females will typically wear scarves as an accessory item year-round. Scarves are a lightweight, easy-to-pack accessory that can make it look like you have many more outfits than you actually do.
Tights: Spanish girls wear tights with everything, even when it is pretty warm outside. Of course, they wear them with skirts and dresses, but they also wear them under shorts and cropped pants in the winter time. Tights in simple, neutral tones like black and brown are a must-have for your trip.
Flats: While Spanish women are known for wearing heels much more than Americans, students and professors wear flats most of the time on campus. Simple ballet flats, in neutral tones and brighter colors, are probably the most common footwear item worn by students. Seen frequently are also tall and short boots and Converse/Keds-like tennis shoes.
Winter coat: Bring a winter coat that you like and don’t mind being photographed in a lot. In Pamplona’s downtown area, most people spend their evening in the street. You’ll find that many times you will venture out, while in Pamplona or while traveling, you won’t ever end up taking your coat off.
Sandals: Unless you are planning doing lots of traveling in warmer areas after your time in Pamplona, you will have limited use for cute, strappy sandals. Open-toed shoes violate UNAV’s dress code, and there are few days during the semester warm enough to wear open-toed shoes.
Obnoxiously bright clothes: The Spanish tend to wear much more neutral, muted tones than Americans. All of the neon-accented things that are popular here have not hit over there. In general, clothes, coats and bags tend to be more muted than in the Unites States. That doesn’t mean that colors aren’t popular. Many scarves, flats, and accessories tend to be colorful. Colored jeans are also popular
Running shoes: Running shoes are worn only while running, (so do bring some if you plan to work out). Students don’t wear running shoes on campus. Guys, be forewarned that many clubs have dress clothes that require you to have on a collar and dark-colored shoes.
T-shirts: Obviously, you will want to bring some T-shirts for working out or wearing around the house. They are seen more as a novelty item and not an everyday wardrobe staple. One of my Italian friends was so taken with all of my sorority T-shirts that I ended up giving her one before the end of the semester.
A typical weekday outfit for a guy might include a button down and/or sweater, chinos or jeans, and a dark leather or suede shoe.
A standard outfit for girls might be a flowy top layered with a cardigan, blazer or jacket, colored skinny jeans and flats.
Clothing photos are from Bershka, a Forever 21-esque store that is all over Europe.