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20 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Erasmus Year

How often do you tell yourself: “Oh, if only I’d known this before”. Well, I never said it as much as during my Erasmus Year. There’s so much the university and teachers ‘forget’ to tell you which will make your time abroad so much more awesome. So just in case they forget to inform you,we’ll help you get most out of your time abroad and share the 20 things I wish I knew before my Erasmus Year.

1. Apply on time to get your Erasmus Scholarship

One of the best things about going on an Erasmus Year is being able to get a scholarship. The Erasmus Scholarship is available for internships, exchange semesters and even for post-graduate programmes. Ask the international office of your university about the conditions and how to apply.

2. Get your ISIC student card before you go

You can get a lot of discount at many places when you’re a student, especially at at museums and tourism sites but also at bars, restaurants and even hairdressers. However, when you’re abroad there’s a good chance they won’t accept your local student card. Therefore make sure you get the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) before you go!

3. Don’t pick any difficult courses

Don’t show this one to your parents and certainly not to your university. But honestly, don’t pick super difficult courses. During your time abroad you will learn so many other things already, from what’s it like to live in a new city to being surrounded by totally different people than you’re used to. This is a valuable experience on itself so don’t make it too hard with picking any difficult courses.

4. Your Erasmus Year is the best time to travel

When you’re abroad you don’t have as many obligations as at home. Your mum won’t ask you to groceries or expect you to join to the birthday party of the aunt you never met before. This means you’ve got plenty of free time to explore the world! Being on an Erasmus Year is the best time to travel so make sure you use your weekends and days off to plan as many trips as you possibly can!

5. Contact previous Erasmus students before you go

Ask your university for the contact details of other students that went to your Erasmus location before. They often have a lot of amazing insights and recommendations for you!

6. Erasmus parties are the best

Expect to party A LOT (another a reason why you shouldn’t pick any difficult courses). Wherever you will go to, Erasmus parties will be there! But, no worries because you will love them. They are actually one of the highlights of your exchange semester. So pack your party clothes and prepare yourself!

7. Build your network

Maybe it sounds sounds like something your dad would say but try to use your time abroad to build your network. Add everyone you meet to your LinkedIn. They might be able to help you get your first job after you graduate!

8. Join Erasmus Facebook groups

Sometimes you have a simple question, want to know about events or just meet up with some other Erasmus students. The best way to do this is becoming a member of Facebook groups and get to know more people like you!

9. Get a good laptop

During your studies there’s one essential thing nowadays and that’s to have a good, fast laptop. Even though you might think it’s totally fine to bring your old one, believe me, your life will be a lot easier if you make a little investment in a good one!

10. Send your study books directly to your Erasmus location

If you need a lot of study books make sure to send them straight to your new study place instead of having to bring them in your already too heavy suitcase.

11. Learn the language

If you’re going on place where they speak another language make try to learn some of the basics before you go. Even though in a lot of countries you often get around with English, it can be extremely helpful to be able to ask for things such as directions. Especially in Southern and Eastern European countries not everyone speaks English. Also, wherever you are, it always is very much appreciated when you are able to say some local words!

12. Research bank accounts

When you move to a new place you often have to open a local bank account. Make sure you research them before you go and aren’t rushed into opening one at a random bank.

13. Find accommodation close to your uni

Even though it’s great fun fun to live in the middle of a city center, close to the famous tourism sites, best clubs and bars – it’s not the best idea if you’re university isn’t around that area. Your uni is the place you’ll have to go to (almost) every day so make sure you live close by or at least have a really good connection between where you live and have to go to every day.

14. Meet people in the hostel bars

If you want to meet more people outside of your university and the Erasmus scene make sure to go to hostels. Not even to stay overnight but just to have a beer at the bar and meet some really cool people!

15. Do a free walking tour

One of the first things to do when you move is to join the free walking tour. This is the perfect way to get to know your new city and learn a bit more about its history. The guides often can tell you other tips as well, such as which markets to go to and how to make use of the public transportation system.

16. Check which discounts students get in the city you’re going to

When you have your ISIC card make sure to check where you can get discounts. There are often so many places and activities you can do for really good prices or even for free!

17. Buy an air bed as soon as you arrive

Be prepared for having a lot of friends over when you move somewhere. Everyone wants to see where you live and spend a few days with you. It’s nice to be able to offer them a place to stay so investing in a good air bed will definitely pay off!

18. Research scholarships

Research all kind of scholarships you might quality for. Even if you think it’s not for you, you might be the perfect candidate.

19. Don’t bring too much stuff

When you move abroad you have no idea what you might need, so you take everything. Don’t make this mistake because when you live somewhere you will also buy a lot of new stuff. In the end, you’ll feel a lot better when you’re there with a few things then with all your stuff from home!

20. Get a local job

If you’re allowed to work at your Erasmus location it can be fun to get a local job in a cafe, restaurant or even as a tour guide. It’s the best way to connect with local people and experience the destination to the fullest.

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