Erasmus: Ready, Set, GO!
Are you getting ready for your Erasmus in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Greece, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland or maybe Sweden?
If you are reading this article it’s because you are either ready to give it a go and apply for it, or have already completed the application papers, picked a destination, got accepted there and now you are excitedly waiting for the time to come while you search for flight tickets and useful information.
Either way you have come to the right place!
What to expect
As a former Erasmus student I can tell you that everything you have heard about the Erasmus experience is TRUE! It’s an incredible experience that will leave you with many beautiful memories to remember. You will live and study in a foreign country and get to know a different culture, learn a new language that you haven’t even consider learning before, and travel around Europe bonding with people all around the world that will become true friends of yours for a lifetime. Those friendships will make you grow as a person and make you see the world from a different point of view, a more international one!
So get ready to explore the world, embark on new adventures, party all night and live your life to its fullest….
…there is only one small catch!
You have to remember that you still have to go to university, attend and participate in the classes, being part of group projects (that’s can be fun but tricky) and take the same exams as the local students.
Stay above the minima!
By the end of your Erasmus you will need to meet the minimum amount of ECTs required to be eligible for the Erasmus scholarship. Because if you fail to comply… well… you will have to return a part of your scholarship or even worse, the whole amount of it… and you don’t want to let that happen!
Keep your poker face on!
Don’t worry though, university professors, in general, aren’t that strict and they won’t go too hard on erasmus students. If you have shown sufficient effort and engagement in their class while making sure that your exam grades are decent enough it’s most likely to give you a good grade, judging the whole participation you had in the class rather than only the exam. But don’t forget! You still need to make an effort to deserve it.
Some extra tips for you
Make sure all your papers and cards are in order!
- Erasmus paperwork: You should have already completed the learning agreement and the scholarship paperwork so don’t forget to keep with you all those relevant papers which prove that you have been accepted in the host university, and what subjects you have selected for the corresponding semesters.
- European Sanitary Card: It’s very easy to apply for it and very important to have it because it will save you from a lot of trouble if and when you need to go to a hospital while staying abroad. Don’t wait for the last minute to apply for that card, depending where you are from it can take up to 4 weeks to send you the card home. Also, If you have any medical history that is worth mentioning, general allergies or specifically an intolerance in some particular medicine, make sure you have them written down somewhere and properly translated so that you can let your doctor know right away even if you don’t speak the language.
- Passport / ID: If you have both of them, it is a good idea to take them with you since they might prove really useful. Make sure that they will not expire during your stay abroad because it will become a really inconvenient thing for you. It is a good practice to also have a photocopy of your passport and/or ID in case you lose them. That will make things to move faster with the Embassy of your country.
- Driving License: If you have one we recommend you to take it with you because you never know when you will decide to have a weekend road trip with your new friends. Don’t forget to make a photocopy of that as well.
Learn the local language beforehand
One of the best favors you can do to yourself! You will find out why as soon as you arrive in your Erasmus destination! Learning a new language online will give you the ability that you have always wanted, to be able to speak a new language with minimal impact to your daily schedule. All you need to do is to study the curriculum yourself and arrange a Skype session with your tutor, so what are you waiting for?
Yes English is better than pantomime
If you speak fluent English, you are one step ahead, especially if you are travelling to United Kingdom, Sweden or Netherlands you won’t have any problem to communicate with most of the locals as they are familiar with the language. However, that’s not the case with the south and central european countries like Spain, Italy, France or Greece, and in some cases, to your surprise, even Germany where the language barrier may cut your wings short.
Learn the native language
Knowing the language of your Erasmus destination can make your stay abroad way easier. Apart of being independent and capable to communicate a message across by yourself without hussle, it will be an advantage to effectively understand and comprehend the university lectures which in turn will play an important role to your final exam results.
How good is good enough?
Don’t freak out though, you don’t have to be fluent in Spanish before you go to Spain but you should be aware that improving your skills in an already obtained language is much more effective, easier and faster than learning the language all the way from the beginning under the pressure of exams and lectures.
Read more about the benefits of learning the local language before your erasmus here (internal link – article 5)
Find accomodation in advance!
Although it’s easier said than done it’s not an impossible task. If you can arrange your accommodation before your arrival that will save you from tons of hassle.
Before you start looking online, try to get in contact with last’s years erasmus students.They will be able to advise you where and what to look for and what to avoid. In the best case scenario they will be even able to give you some contacts.
The student dorms are not always the answer
Do your research! Find where is the city center and the university and how far are the dorms from both of them. Check where the local students prefer to stay and how much is the difference in the cost between staying in a student dorm for a semester or renting a room in a sharing flat. Don’t forget that in a student dorm sometimes you will need to share the room with someone else, so if the price is the same (or higher) for the dorms, wouldn’t you rather prefer having your own room in a share flat with other local or erasmus students?
Spend time with your friends and family before you leave
One last advice for you before you start packing! You should spend as much time as possible with your friends and family! Don’t postpone it until the very last minute because you will end up with a bunch of things to take care of and you will start panicking… in a good and exciting way of course!
So are you ready to live this wonderful experience?
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