My Erasmus year abroad has been the most amazing experience and I would not have missed a second of it. However, there are some aspects of a year abroad that are not always plain sailing and I felt like talking about them today.
Missing friends and family is one of the biggest lows of a year abroad. While it has been great meeting new people and making new friends, it is difficult moving to an unknown foreign country without having your close friends and loved ones at hand. The most difficult part is the fact that you cannot easily jump on the train/coach for a weekend visit home. Despite this, I used this as an incentive to keep going until the Christmas and Easter holidays when I would see my much missed friends and family.
Like I have already said, meeting new people and making friends is a wonderful part of an Erasmus year abroad, yet initially it can feel very daunting and quite over whelming. From my experience I met so many new people at once I didn’t quite know what to do for the first two weeks. But after that I settled in and realised it was great to have such an array of friends.
The language barrier can also be a bit of a problem. I am lucky enough not to have this issue too much as in Malta they teach in English and speak very fluent English. However, for some this is not the case. Friends I know that are on an Erasmus year abroad in countries such as Italy and Greece have to face the issue of the language barrier daily and sometimes it can get frustrating. However, I do know that they are now a lot more fluent in Italian and Greek and being able to speak fluently in another language is always a bonus!
In addition to the language barrier, one thing that can be extremely frustrating is not knowing how foreign systems work abroad. By this I mean either getting to know how things run at the new university you will be studying at or how things run generally in the new country you are living in. I did learn very quickly how things run in Malta and now it seem very normal.
Another thing to look out for is theft. We would all like to think that the amazing new country you are living and studying in cannot be brought down in your eyes, but theft happens everywhere so just be extra careful and don’t let the Erasmus beer goggles lead you astray!
Lastly it can also be rather stressful finding somewhere to live. Luckily for me Malta has accommodation specifically for international students that run like student halls of accommodation back home. However, some of my other friends were not so lucky and were not in proper accommodation until a month into the start of their university term! I recommend that you research thoroughly before your move abroad and if it is a case of having to find accommodation once you are there, make sure you are in that country at least a few weeks before your term starts!
If there are lows of an Erasmus year abroad these are the few myself and friends came across. I have muchly enjoyed my year abroad but if someone could have given me the head up on these issues before hand I would have sailed into settling in a lot quicker.