Preparing yourself for an experience abroad is never easy, on top of having to say goodbye to your friends and making your family understand why you are going in the first place. That’s why we’ve written a little memo for you.
1. ERASMUS RED TAPE
Bureaucracy can be tough: prepare yourself in advance, gather all the information you need and don’t be afraid to ask your international department and former Erasmus students for help. Check in advance to see which exams are compatible with your studies and look for databases where students might have added them already.
2. HEALTH INSURANCE
This is really important, especially if you are going to the UK or somewhere extracontinental where health care is suuuuper expensive. I am sure you don’t want to see your parents bankrupted for just a broken finger! Don’t forget your European Health Insurance Card if you are planning to spend your time on Erasmus within EU borders.
3. EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS
We wish you all the best, but you never know what will happen and glitches are never far away! Prepare a list of all the numbers you could possibly need, such as: doctors, police, firefighters, or simply a plumber!
4. HOME (NEW) SWEET HOME
Find a place to stay, even a temporary one that will allow you to look for another place when you arrive in your Erasmus city. Room4talk is here to help! You will be living live with locals, who can really help you through your experience: introducing you to his/her friends, explaining how the university system works etc.
5. ERASMUS SCHOLARSHIPS
I am sure you already know that Erasmus is not just about studying abroad: you will really improve your languages if you make the most of every opportunity, which means having a little money in your pocket. It’s good to know that you can get financial assistance from the European Union. Even if you get your scholarship a little bit late, I can guarantee that your money will still arrive.
6. ERASMUS WELCOME EVENTS
Of course, you’ll be out of your element when you arrive. But the good news is you can get straight to the good part where you feel comfortable with your life. A team of young people will welcome you to the university (and that means partying and drinking, too!): everybody knows that people are more sociable with a glass of wine/vodka in their hand. Plus, they will give you some tips on where to visit and where to go out in the city as well as answering all your questions.
7. BANK ACCOUNT
Trust me, everything will be easier if you open a bank account, especially if you’re outside Europe. This means you won’t have to pay extra fees when you withdraw cash or transfer money. You won’t be charged for financial transactions within the European Union, but sometimes landlords and potential employers require a national bank account for security reasons.
8. CELLPHONE CONTRACT
I’m sure you’ll want to stay in touch with your family and friends (old and new) without being broke! Check if the company requires a long commitment and read the contract thoroughly to avoid nasty surprises.
9. HI, LOCALS/STRANGERS, IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU
The temptation is always there: being with people from your own country who speak your language and avoiding any contact with local people or other foreign students. So, why the hell did you leave? You could have stayed at home and saved a lot of money. Don’t be shy. Other Erasmus students will feel embarrassed at the beginning, too. They are experiencing the same thing as you so it isn’t pathetic to try and make new friends. Plus, there are loads of linguistic exchanges and events where you can meet other Erasmus students, or simply people who have just arrived in town! Room4Talk will help you to make new local friends!
10. YOUR FUTURE IS NOW
The job market and career options are not that far away (at least, we hope so). This is a great opportunity to enrich your CV by improving your languages and taking different academic courses. They should be relevant to what you’re studying and even count towards your degree at home so that you won’t have to pass more exams when you get back. And don’t choose the easiest ones! You’re here to test your skills and learn as much as you can. “Easy” is not and should never be part of the Erasmus vocabulary.
11. HAVE FAITH
Your experience will be amazing and useful for your future. The studies don’t lie. According to the European Commission, Erasmus has a positive impact on students’ future careers and their access to the job market. When the time comes, it will be easier to find an internship (maybe even in your Erasmus country, why not?). Curiosity, self confidence, adaptability and developing other soft skills, besides professional and academic ones, are the most common “side effects” of an experience abroad.