The Erasmus (EuRopean community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) programme is the best invention of all time in many people’s opinions and anyone who has had the experience will agree.
It is often the first time you will be in a foreign country for any real length of time and for many it is the first time that you will be truly on your own and expected to act like a real grown up.
In the spirit of this here is a list of things that will hopefully help make the experience one that will never be forgotten.
•Do your research. Every country is different and no matter how much research is done there is always more to learn. However preparation is key and it is often the simple things that are overlooked. For instance just because the country is in the EU does not mean it uses the euro.
•Do budget. Students are used to budgeting money for busy social lives but there is more to think about when living abroad. Remember that the budget must include money for rent, travel, food and of course the odd night out. It is hard to call on reliable parents when it takes a few days for a money transfer to come through.
•Don’t over pack. Only take the bare essentials, there are shops in every country and often the local shops have many unique pieces that will make friends at home green with envy. Also when flying with cheaper airlines (cough Ryanair cough) there may be very strict weight allowances.
•Don’t overuse Facebook and other social media sites. This is one of the hardest things to do. Social media will make you feel less homesick in the first few weeks and help you keep in touch with family and friends but using it too much will make you miss out some of the best Erasmus experiences. The first couple of Erasmus events are the most important as this is when people meet and get to know each other.
•Do talk to everyone! Everyone is really friendly when given the chance and don’t forget that each person is in the same boat. Erasmus is the best opportunity to make new international friends and these friendships may create travel opportunities in the future. These new friends will become family over the next few months so getting to know them in the first few weeks is essential.
•Don’t slack off in the college department just because you are in a different country. Erasmus is a tempting time to neglect college work. Your grades will still count when you get home so there is no need to stop trying. There will still be plenty of time to have fun without letting grades slip.
•Do say yes to everything. Go on day trips, which are often organised by the college, and if the opportunity arises travel to other places. Once on the European continent it is easy to travel and good deals on plane and train tickets are plentiful.
•Do go on Erasmus! This is the most important tip that anyone can give. It is an amazing experience that should not be missed.
Remember the only regrets in life are the things that you did not do.
(Origional text published on www.campus.ie on 27 June 2012 http://campus.ie/college-life/academic/8-things-you-should-know-about-an-erasmus-programme)