Moving abroad for Erasmus is meant to be a challenge, but a fun challenge. Challenge yourself to visit a million cliché landmarks, meet tons of people, and successfully find your way home in your new city after a night of partying. Don’t challenge yourself to see how many queues you sit in before finding out you have the wrong documents for your needed paperwork. Trust us. You don’t want or need that challenge. So we’ve compiled 50 tips for Erasmus from industry experts and former students, so that you can maximise the good times and minimise any “doh!” moments you might’ve come to experience otherwise.

University | Housing  | Language Transportation Meeting People Drinking Traveling |  Daily Life Eating | Going Home

On hitting the books…

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1. “Don’t forget about the actual school part of your Erasmus year. At least where I was in Belgium, I had to study, not extensively every day, but I definitely had to study. If you don’t pass your courses, you have to pay back the scholarship, so don’t be overly complacent.”

Jorge (Xipo) | Belgium

2. “Make sure you sort out your course selection before you head to your new uni. Once you’re there the language barrier is only going to make the administrative stuff more confusing. So be certain to sort out the specifics of your credits with your tutor in advance because credit values tend to fluctuate.” 

Patricia Jiménez | Germany

3. “I found the level of study easier. From what I’ve seen, tests dont vary at all with what’s been done in class. The extra reading is almost optional, but there’s much more continous work.”

Santiago Hernández | Finland

4. “Research on Google Maps and start looking for destinations with low-cost airlines. Ideally, you should pick a cheap country that has a good location in Europe to do your Erasmus.”

Inés Pérez del Molino | Poland

5. “I wish I’d known more about the support I could get in France as a student, or guidance on bureaucracy crap.” 

Katherine Allwood | France

6. “I think I would have wanted to know a bit more about how the EU-healthcare works! Plus the “signing in” and out of a country, I’m probably still registered in Munich.”

Stefanie Sirén | Germany

7. “Know how many credits you have to take and get them sorted ASAP so you can enjoy your time without worrying about administration problems!”

ESN King’s | England

On where you hang your hat…

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8. “Some people’s main concern is accommodation; how to get it, which is a good or a bad neighbourhood to live in or where you can be the first few days while they find housing. These things are always rectified eventually.”

ESN Málaga | Spain

9. “Find out if the university offers accommodation, and if so, which types. Most universities offer a range which means that with a little research, applications and maybe a few euros more, you will find a more suitable residence surrounded by locals”

Patricia Jiménez | Germany

10. “Roommates are not always easy. When you fantasize about your Erasmus accommodation, you might imagine living like “Friends,” but this is not always the case. Remember to be tolerant and resolve any bad vibes ASAP.”

Erasmus Platform

On conjugating, communicating, and google translating…

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11. “Don’t avoid speaking to people just because you don’t speak the language well! Learning the language is one of the things that will improve your exchange the most. And of course, as you’ll soon figure out, a few drinks will make you basically bilingual!”

Inés Pérez del Molino | Poland

12. “Come up with a few basic phrases in the language! Even if it’s a country where everyone speaks English, you’ll always come across the odd person who would rather not. And you can be sure to be greeted with a big smile and better treatment which is a nice little bonus.”

Patricia Jiménez | Germany

13. “When you first get there you’ll definitely regret not having paid better attention in your language classes. But don’t worry, imitation will be your greatest ally!”

Erasmus Platform

On getting around town…

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14. “Take a notebook of useful stuff. I speak from experience. If you’re taking a train from the airport, it’s so useful to know how much a ticket costs, how often the train departs, whether you have to change trains and how you ask for a ticket (in case you haven’t yet mastered the language). It will save you a lot of time and misunderstandings.”

Álvaro Jiménez | Germany

15. “You never know what to expect when it comes to Italy’s city buses, regardless of what the schedules say. You can purchase tickets from news stands or at the bus station, but you can also buy them from the bus driver, which can be really annoying, especially in large cities where the buses are filled with 3 times their capacity. Then you have to stamp your ticket in the small machine that marks it with the date and time, so often you will be able stamp it and you can re-use it next time. But be careful, the fine is 100 euros if you get caught.”

Elvira Rodríguez | Italy

16. “Nobody warned me how dangerous cycling can be in cities like Flanders where it’s the norm to bike, particularly in the rain or if you’re cycling by the tram lines. So what happened? The first evening my tyre got stuck in the tram tracks. Not a great start…”

Oriol Salvador | Belgium

With friends like these…

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17. “Prepare to meet people from all over the world. You will probably end up speaking a lot of English if it is not your native language, as this is usually the common tongue. But you end up with an eclectic group of friends!”

Tessie Messie

18. “It isn’t always a good idea to go on Erasmus with friends from home. Don’t trick yourself thinking that you may have the same relationship in your home town as you will in your Erasmus destination. And anyway, the essence of Erasmus is – and always will be – to meet new people from all over the world.”

Álvaro Jiménez | Germany

19. “Relationships should be left at home, as the majority I’ve known have ended badly: none of the long distance relationships exceeded two months. There are so many new people to met and new things to do that the old is sometimes quickly left behind. On Erasmus you’ll meet some of the best friends of your life. You’ll see.”

Santiago Hernández | Finland

20. “I didn’t realize that I would end up hanging out and meeting mostly international people rather than locals.”

Travel On The Brain | Netherlands

21. “Talking to other people that have stayed and studied in the new place beforehand.”

ESN Lund | Sweden

22. “Searching for and joining useful Facebook groups before getting there is a pretty good idea, then you get to prepare yourself mentally a bit more and maybe find others in the same situation, which is always comforting and encouraging.”

ESN Lund | Sweden

On getting thirsty…

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23. “Don’t say no to even the smallest plans, the get-togethers that begin with a “let’s get a drink” and the impromptu trips are the things I miss most about Erasmus. If you turn them down, you’ll probably end up regretting it.”

Álvaro Jiménez | Germany

24. “Know things like: what is your limit? Or how many days in a row of partying can you go before your body will collapse?”

Off The Path | Germany

25. “I wish I had known that it would be more partying than studying, and that I should have prepared my liver for it.”

Dream Euro Trip

26. “You’re not going to get more than 6 hours of sleep a night and hopefully it’s not because you’ll be busy studying. You’ll be so busy attending parties and events and concerts that you may even find it difficult to squeeze in the necessary 6 hours. Sometimes you may even find yourself in class without having slept (still wearing last night’s party clothes). And if you’ve got a boyfriend or girlfriend expect to sleep even less.”

Tessie Messie | Spain

27. “I would have loved to have known the exorbitant price of beer in Norway before arriving.”

Nico | Norway

On further exploration…

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28. “I advise choosing a good university, of course, but also take your host country’s geographical location into account. One great thing is do on Erasmus is to travel, and if you choose a fairly central country you can visit many place at low cost as the price of transport is drastically reduced. Such is the case in Belgium; you can visit London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and many other destinations very cheaply.” 

Juliana Caicedo | Belgium

29. “Plan a bigger budget. Calculate around 4,000 euros for the three months , so you have enough money to travel around.”

Vanessa | England

30. “Take a night train across the border, go on a bike ride to the beach and see Europe like you’ve never seen it before.”

Maria | Portugal

On days in the life…

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31. “I would tell future students to take risks, to try new things and don’t focus on the stereotypes that people have about the experience. It’s better to learn all you can about the language, culture, people and cities where you’re living.”

Juan Antonio Lorca Antón | England

32. “Any normal daily task – whether withdrawing money from the bank, shopping or even laundry – will feel like an adventure. I remember almost crying my way out of the bank because they couldn’t make a transfer for me to pay my rent.”

Patricia Jiménez | Germany

33. “Make sure you bring enough cash with you. There’s no harm having a bit more than you end up using. There’s really nothing worse than being somewhere new and seeing your money slowly dwindle while waiting on your new credit/debit card which should’ve arrived days ago but is nowhere in sight. It’s a real nightmare.”

Álvaro Jiménez | Germany

34. “Get a bank account that has good conditions for use abroad. For example, one that doesn’t charge commission each time you withdraw, allows online transfers and queries, and provides more than one card (in the case of theft or loss). There are many banks that don’t offer all these features, and it’s so important not having money problems when you’re living abroad on your own.”

Celia Ramajo | Belgium

35. “That the Italian police would come to your apartment (twice in 10 months!) to see if you really lived where you said you did.”

Carla | Italy

36.”I wish I had known how to adapt like a local to really enjoy my stay abroad. Be sure not to live like a tourist. There are things from your home life that you will want to continue doing (going to the gym, buying certain products) so investigate before arriving at your new site.”

ESN Barcelona UPF | Spain

37. “I think my single biggest piece of advice would be to find out what resources there are for Erasmus students and how active they are. Is there an international or erasmus society? Does the uni plan events? Are there programs to encourage exchange student integration? Also, it’s a great idea to talk to students from your university who have been there before. They’ll give you the best insight into what your experience is going to be like.”

ESN Strathclyde | Scotland

38. “Try to do something new every week!”

ESN King’s | England

39. “Finland is an icy paradise!

Naddel | Finland

40. “Nothing is ever how you imagined it.”

Lulu Sinnott | Germany

41. “Don’t rely too much on the “your year abroad is what you make it” advice – sometimes it’s hard to make just any place seem good. Go somewhere you really want to go.”

Julia Neimann | Germany

42. “The vast majority of your time will be spent on Facebook.” 

Adam Lambert | France & Germany

43. “Don’t worry about things not going to plan on arrival. Things will get better.”

Katherine Steel | Spain

44. “Apply for advertised work placements instead of contacting people you know. These generally have more structure and you’ll know what to expect from the job description.”

Fi Spencer | Germany

On getting hungry…

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45. “You will get fat. This is a fact. Do not go against it. I suggest you try the typical dishes of every country you visit, which are normally not included in a low calorie diet. Almost every day you will have a large meal, or may be eating in the city like a typical tourist. And don’t forget national holidays and alcohol. But do not deprive yourself of ANYTHING. You’re only on Erasmus for a year, and one that you have to enjoy it to the fullest. Socialising will always consist of food and drink, but don’t stay at home worrying about next summer. You will regret not experiencing everything.”

Inés Pérez del Molino | Poland

46. “I’m from Spain and I wish I had known how much people abroad loved Spanish food. When I was on Erasmus, every week someone asked me to make an omelette or paella or gazpacho. The student associations were always organising international dinners where everyone was expected to bring a typical dish from their country. Paella was always a winner.” 

Celia Ramajo | France & Germany

47. “They don’t have the same brands and products all over Europe and it’s only once you’re out there shopping that you realise how important your normal brands can be. Keep an open mind and be creative.” 

Erasmus Platform

On going home…

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48. “Be aware that it’s a stage of your life, and it will end just as it begins. Coming home is hard and you might experience post-Erasmus depression.” 

Jorge (Xipo) | Belgium

49. “Like it or not, Erasmus will come to an end. It seems so obvious but it always feels so far away that you don’t appreciate each day and you should! Enjoy every moment, every conversation, every beer with friends, each new friendship … Because you’ll inevitably find yourself crying inconsolably as you say goodbye to your Erasmus family.” 

Álvaro Jiménez | Germany

50. “Home may still be the same, but I most certainly am not.”

Claire Hennessy | Germany

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