Daniel Lee, currently on his erasmus year in Italy
I have found settling into my second Erasmus+ placement much easier, because I knew what to expect. But without the knowledge, an Erasmus+ placement isn’t always as smooth as people think.
Erasmus students are seen as the social butterflies of university, but this isn’t always easy. It’s really important to emphasise to be yourself, but make the effort to speak to as many people as you can. There will always be someone you get along with, it’s just finding them! After many nights out, you might be struggling. I For me, preventing a hangover works if I eat something before going to sleep, followed by copious amounts of water that night and the following morning. In every Erasmus city, they have the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) who take care of arranging all nights out and any trips you decide to go on.
Personally, I think choosing the right accommodation factors hugely in your year abroad experience. If you are happy where you live, it will make the whole time so much more positive. Speak to the Erasmus buddies - they’ve been in your position and know what’s worked for other students too. They will normally take you to an agency with numerous housing options.. However, for my placement in Italy I posted on the ESN Facebook group and got many responses. Accommodation typically gets sorted when you arrive, so book a hostel in advance for a few days so you’re not homeless while house-hunting. If you’re keen arrange your accommodation beforehand then definitely ensure you’ve seen enough photos or videos before committing.
The library becomes a familiar place for students and getting to grips with a new one is a struggle. Luckily, an introduction to how the library works is held during orientation week. Make sure you attend this as they only offer it once.
I wish someone had told me that teachers do not put work online, so after class remember to ask for the worksheets and a list of the websites that have been used. During exam season, I’ve found it best revising in a group. Being within the erasmus network, you come to value teamwork. For me, revising in groups allows you to help each other while helping yourself.
As a student, finance is important. One thing I’ve learnt on my year abroad is that living costs are different outside of the UK. Accommodation is cheaper but food is more expensive, so watch out for this. Buy what you need first and then add treats and home comforts with what’s left of your budget. I used to think that I was a good budgeter, but I think my habits have changed as I’m now more aware of my spending on a night out for example, or only buying what I really need.
Looking after yourself and keeping safe is important and if you fall ill, this can become very expensive. Unlike the UK, European countries do not all have a free health care system and I would only see a GP if it was urgent. Most common medication can be bought over the counter in pharmacies.
Make sure you get insurance. While you should have an EHIC card - giving you access to state-provided healthcare while staying in Europe - this will not cover all emergency treatment. While I fortunately have not yet had to use my insurance, it’s comforting to know it’s there in case.
If you are ever in doubt about anything, ask someone that has been there before. After all, who better to ask than someone who’s had the study abroad experience too.
Daniel Lee, currently studying on his erasmus year in Cagliari, Italy.
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