Erasmus is sometimes sold as the best year of your life; while that may not be true for everybody, it’s certainly true that you will never ever forget your Erasmus year. Here are some tips from Laura about how make the most of your Erasmus experience.
Plus, there’s some links at the bottom of this post that will be super useful if you’re coming to London on Erasmus!
Having done an Erasmus year myself, here’s my list of top 10 tips for making your Erasmus the best year of your life.
- Integrate with your flatmates/classmates. I know from personal experience that it is difficult to integrate when you’re far from home and you just want to stick with other Erasmus, especially those who share your culture and language; however it is important to try your best to mix with the natives. This will not only improve your language skills but will settle you into your new life much quicker, minimising any awkward silences at home and ‘tumbleweed moments’ when the teacher asks you to form mixed groups in class.
- Buy when you arrive. Try to minimise your luggage allowance and save money by buying things cheaply when you arrive in your Erasmus city. You can buy anything in London; you don’t need to bring much with you!
- Be sure to take advantage of Erasmus events and join lots of Erasmus groups on Facebook as this is a great way of meeting new people and finding out what’s going on. Also, keep an eye out for Erasmus companies who organise trips to different parts of the country; these are usually really reasonably priced and again, are a great way of meeting people. Most universities will have an international society, this is great for meeting other Erasmus students and they will often arrange touristy trips to cities and attractions around the UK.
3.5. Travel! Make sure you explore the city you’re living in, and also the country. There’s more to the UK than London, we’ve got plenty of other fab cities and they are definitely worth a visit.
- Use your SU. Every university in the UK has a Student Union. This kind of institution doesn’t exist at all universities in Europe, but in the UK they are part of a uni’s fabric. Student Unions provide everything you’ll ever need; sports clubs, social societies, events, support, trips. The list is endless, most importantly for an Erasmus student are the societies and sports clubs which will help you to make friends that aren’t other Erasmus students – escape the bubble!
- Book flights early. Booking your flights early (if you can) will give you something to look forward to if you get home sick. Booking in advance will also save you money; normally you’ll get a better deal than if you book last minute.
- Try to live with people from other cultures/nationalities. This will really push you out of your comfort zone but will greatly improve your language skills.
- Be aware that admin week will be stressful. Be prepared! Enrolling for modules and classes at each university is different. During my Erasmus, I found the registration process extremely stressful, as I didn’t realise it would take over a week and various trips to administration. This process can be a nightmare, but trying to stay calm and not worry about it is the best advice: everything will get sorted out eventually.
- Prepare for culture shock. There isn’t any real way of preparing for this, just be aware that you will experience it, even if you think your native culture and Erasmus culture aren’t that dissimilar.
- Tandems and Language classes. Signing up for tandems and language courses will improve your language skills and also give you a confidence boost, practising your speaking in an environment where you don’t need to worry about mistakes.
- Get to class. Be sure to actually attend your university classes. After all, everyone always says the Erasmus year is the party year but you are there to learn as well.
OVERALL: ENJOY YOURSELF! Your experience will stay with you for your whole life, and you only get to do it once, so make it count!
Laura recently graduated from the University of Roehampton. She enjoyed an Erasmus year at the Universitat de Valencia in Spain, and lived with Erasmus students here in London during her final year. Twitter: @Laura_Hodgkins
Useful links for Erasmus students in London.
- https://www.facebook.com/iesnuk ESN (Erasmus student network) UK on Facebook.
- http://www.erasmusinlondon.com/ Erasmus in London website – full of information on Visas, accommodation, tuition fees, and universities in London.
- http://erasmusu.com/en/erasmus-london Erasmus U London – this site is a must for every Erasmus student! Blogs from students, accommodation advice and classifieds, an active forum, even job offers! También hay mucha información en español, especialmente en el foro – ¡que útil!
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/226166927587278/ There’s more than one Facebook group – just search London Erasmus 2014/15 and join the ones you like the look of! These are great for events, parties, finding accommodation, etc.
- http://language-exchange.meetup.com/cities/gb/17/london/ Language Exchange. This site provides a directory of all the language meet-ups happening in London.
- http://www.gumtree.com/skills-language-swap/london Gumtree language swap section – easily find a tandem partner for your language pair in London.
www.survivelondon.co.uk – Us! We’re all about providing advice and useful tips to people who have just moved to London, not just Erasmus students, anybody and everybody!
Follow us on twitter @Surive_London to keep up to date.