Doing an Erasmus year is a big deal. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of new experiences to try. We’ve come up with some top tips for Erasmus students to help you through your year. Making the right choices will help the year be as amazing as you hope it will be!
1. Be realistic
The first of our top tips for Erasmus is important to coming back content with your year abroad. For a lot of people Erasmus is one of the best years of their life. You were probably told this multiple times during prep for your year abroad. However, this can set quite a high bar for students, and mean that sometimes, Erasmus students can come back feeling disappointed about their year. These high expectations can also add pressure on enjoying every single moment and taking advantage of every opportunity – but this isn’t very realistic. The ups and downs of moving abroad are completely normal and feeling homesick is all part of the process. Being constantly on the go and not giving yourself any ‘me time’ puts you on a one track train to burnout. Whether burnout comes in the form of exhaustion or a horrible flu – burnout will make you feel 1000 times worse than the odd bit of FOMO now and then.
Chances are, if you’re in a big city, flights around Europe are gonna be pretty cheap. For example, flights from Spanish mainland to the islands (Ibiza trip anyone?) are sometimes under €30. Plus, travelling with your new friends is one of the best ways to become closer, quicker. Alternatively, solo travel can be a great way to relax and give yourself some well deserved ‘me time’. Hostels and budget airlines make travelling so much easier and more affordable for Erasmus students, that there’s really no excuse to take at least a couple trips away. Make sure you get your ESN card to get travel discounts as well!
On that note, given you’re in a foreign country, it’s even more important that you’re careful with your money. No one wants to be stuck in a city they don’t know with 5 cents to their name. Luckily, there are so many apps and things you can do to make sure you don’t go over budget.
First things first, it’s important you actually make a budget. It can get confusing when you have grants, student loans and wages all coming in separately. You’ll thank me later if you sit down and actually work out how much you can spend every week. Secondly, do some research. It’s easy when you first move somewhere to start shopping at the nearest supermarket to your flat. Take some time to look into which supermarkets are cheaper and where you can get the best deals. Being careful about your grocery spending can save you hundreds of euros over the year – that’s your couple weekends away paid for!
4. Immerse yourself
This one’s kind of obvious, but it can be super easy to slip into the habit of slipping into English. This is particularly difficult in big, touristic cities where a lot of people speak a high level of English. Don’t be discouraged by people replying to you speaking your target language in English either. It can be frustrating but isn’t always a reflection on your language skills. Sometimes people want to practice their English, or they assume it’ll be easier for you!
If you’re struggling to find people who speak your target language, the Meetup app is a great way to meet new people and practice your target language! Whilst there are lots of events for English speakers, there are also plenty for those who are trying to practice their target language. Language exchanges are always a great idea, but there are things like yoga and beach volleyball you can try out too! For those of you who are single, dating natives of your city is also a great opportunity to practice your language… who knows? Maybe you’ll meet the future parent of your children!
5. Prepare yourself for coming back
The last of our top tips for Erasmus is not as fun as the others, but it’s definitely necessary. Post Erasmus depression is a real thing. You’ve just had an amazing year, immersing yourself in a foreign culture, making loads of great friends. It would be weird coming back and not feeling down about having to leave all of that! One of the best things to do is brace yourself for it, and be proactive about it. Dwelling won’t be helpful. Remember to go to the gym and look after yourself. Plans trips to visit your Erasmus friends, and get a job to fund as many trips as possible! Your Erasmus year doesn’t have to be your last year abroad. You’re just about to graduate and you’ve been able to see how great moving to a new country can be – it’s only the beginning of your travel adventures!
If you really are struggling, make sure you contact your university wellbeing centre and have your family and friends around you to support you through the transition.
Thanks for reading our Top Tips for Erasmus Students. We hope you’ve enjoyed them and found them helpful!