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Summer is here to stay, which means you may be starting your Erasmus internship soon, or you just got accepted for a semester abroad. After the excitement wears off, you might get anxious or nervous, because you don’t know how to get ready for your Erasmus.
Leaving things last minute will probably stress you out even more. Start by making a list of what you need to do beforehand, scratching off the tasks you have already finished. This will help you keep track of what is missing. Here are some tips on how to get ready for your Erasmus exchange and prepare for the unknown.
Get ready for your Erasmus – Preparing for a life abroad
- Start saving now – This is one of the most important things to do. Although Erasmus grants are extremely helpful;, saving money will help you with the first expenses, such as accommodation, important documents, any fees, etc. One trick is to start saving money once you get your confirmation. You challenge yourself, by saving 1€ every day, as an example. Starting one year in advance will save you 365€! You can also look for a part-time job before you leave and save that money for your semester abroad – you won’t be the first one to do so;
- Create a daily or weekly budget – As soon as you know exactly how much money you can have, set yourself a daily or weekly budget that you need to stick to. Once you arrive in a new city, it is also important to take notes of how much you are spending. Don’t forget to compare your expenses with your initial budget;
- Have an idea of what the culture in that country is like – Cultural shock is a real deal here. Get ready for your Erasmus and do your own research. You will less likely suffer from cultural shock;
- Join Erasmus groups online – There are some websites that have forums where you can find people that are going to the same place and read their reviews. You can ask former Erasmus students for some advice and tips on how to get ready for your Erasmus, and how to survive the first days. Another option is to join Erasmus groups on Facebook: you will be updated on any events that might take place, plus you can also organize meetings yourself!;
- Consider taking a language course before leaving– Knowing the basics of a language is crucial for daily communication, such as talking to your neighbours, shopping, or asking for directions. It is recommended to take even a short language course to give you basic knowledge of that language;
- Check if your ID, passport or credit cards are going to expire soon – There is nothing worse than realizing during your exchange that your documents and cards are expired. Remember that these might take a while to be renewed, so do it in advance;
- Inform yourself about the documents you will need – For example, whether you need a visa or not, any documents that prove your income, confirmation of arrival and departure for your university, any declarations and contracts, etc. You can ask your home university and your host university about what you will need in the end;
- Have your European Health Insurance Card ready – Even if you are not planning on getting sick during your stay abroad, you need to be ready for unforeseen situations;
- Take copies of the most important documents – Even if you are the most careful person when it comes to documents, unfortunate situations might happen and you may end up losing your documents. Make some copies of the most important ones (yes, all of them!). Leave a copy of each one at home. Take with you the original ones, and put another copy in a different bag. Better safe than sorry!
- Don’t book your tickets last minute – as soon as your stay is confirmed, book your flight, train or bus ticket. It will be one less thing to worry about, and you will probably find an affordable ticket if you book it in advance;
- Check the routes you will need to make when you arrive – If you need to take several routes to get to your destination, get information about them in advance. It might happen that you won’t find any tourist information or there might be a language barrier. Note down the streets you will need to take, as well as the location of the stations you will need to go to. The best thing would be to have a map and mark where you need to go with a different colour;
- Use web mapping services or apps to get an idea of what the streets look like – Some apps have a “street view” option that enables you to see the streets from pedestrians’ point of view. This will come in handy if you are not the best person when it comes to dealing with maps. At least you will know that you are in the right place;
- Start looking for accommodation early – Just like flights, accommodation is something you should start looking in advance for. Prices usually don’t change whether you are early or not. However, places like student dorms are very popular and get booked very quickly. Get ready for your Erasmus by knowing your options when it comes to accommodation;
- For Erasmus Studies, start looking for the courses you would like to take – It is important to check if the courses you want to take are compatible with your home degree. Also, there is a possibility that some courses will not be available for you. In this case, you will need to meet with your Erasmus coordinator and see what are your options. Some Erasmus students need to do individual work to compensate for the missing courses. Don’t forget to check accreditation as well. Again, do it in advance, as some courses may have application deadlines;
- For Erasmus internships, ask the company for some information – Get ready for your Erasmus internship by knowing where the office is located. This might be a huge help, especially when you want to find accommodation close to the office. Other pertinent questions would be about the dress code, if you need to take your computer with you, or whether you need to read some documents beforehand;
- Check if you have weather appropriate clothes and shoes – This applies when you go to a place where weather is very different from where you live at the moment. If you are not used to the cold, for example, you can start by gathering clothes and boots appropriate for colder weather;
- Take mostly colour-neutral clothes – Packing for staying months abroad could be a real challenge. One trick is to take clothes that are easier to combine and that enable you to create several outfits. You can then take two or three statement pieces (more colourful or with different patterns) to combine with those outfits. You can also buy something later if you need to. If you don’t want to compromise on the number of clothes you take with you, why won’t you send your items with Eurosender?;
- Check which gadgets are indispensable to take with you – Take with you the gadgets that you will be using on a regular basis. For example, if your mobile phone has a good camera, you can leave your camera at home. E-books (like a kindle) are good for those who like to read but can’t afford taking loads of books with them. If you are going to study, don’t forget to pack your laptop and charger. If you have a tablet and you won’t need a laptop, take it instead. If you are interested in knowing more about gadgets that could be useful for you, read our blog post on 22 Best Travel Gadgets For Your Next Trip;
- Vacuum bags will be your best friends – If you will need to take with you bulky clothing like coats and jackets, put them inside vacuum bags and you will instantly have more space in your suitcase. You can easily use a vacuum cleaner to take all the air out;
- Use travel-friendly bags or suitcases – If you go alone on Erasmus, you probably won’t have anyone else to help you carry your suitcases. Check if your suitcases are in good condition, to make sure you will be able to take them on your own. Additionally, take with you a backpack or a small trolley that you could easily use for small trips;
This might seem like a lot to take in, but there is no such thing as “too much preparation”. The more you prepare yourself and get ready for your Erasmus, the better. However, even if you have everything planned in your head, it is important to know that unforeseen situations might happen. Although you should be prepared as possible, you also need to be ready and open to any situation you did not predict. That is why Erasmus is great for you: You will learn how to be independent and how to deal with anything unforeseen. Good luck!