People who are doing an Erasmus year abroad come September are actually getting rather close, so it makes sense to write a list of some things I’ve learnt during my own one. They’re in no particular order — or are they?
1) Ask the International Office for the details of the past Erasmus students in your destination city. They’ll be happy to help you and nobody can give you more helpful information than them, since they were in exactly the same situation as you were.
2) Italian students, see if you can navigate your way around Bakeca and Easystanza. They’re certainly the most popular sites year abroad students use for finding accomodation in Italy. They may have silly names, but I don’t know how to finish this sentence. As an alternative, ask the students you contacted in 1) and see if you can get in contact with their landlord. After all, if they’re willing to recommend the landlord then that’s a safe bet.
3) Try to have a good navigate around your faculty website. At the start, for instance, I thought that my faculty website had very little of use, but in fact pretty much all the information you need is in there somewhere, be it dates or exams or course names or weird distractions attempting to confuse you in what is essentially a simple system. Makes sure you understand which courses are in English and which are in other languages. You aren’t bound to take English courses, but the risk is of course your own.
4) Meet up with the other students from your university going to the same Erasmus city. There should be a few at least and together you are stronger, like a bunch of breadsticks tied together.
5) If you’re really ahead of the game, email some of the professors you think you’ll have and check that you can take their course and if they have an specific requirements. Hopefully they don’t.
6) Find and join a Facebook group for the Erasmus students at that university during that period. You might make some friends before arriving or you might just be able to stalk your way to some inside knowledge. Enjoy.
7) Look up the standard weather patterns of that city. Some places rain a lot, or get really cold. It’s easy to imagine that anything outside the UK will be better than the UK, and you’d usually be right to assume so, but if you live in another country for a while you might lower your resistance to the cold. Also, some places are really, really cold.
8) Don’t be afraid of living with non-British people. Tons of Erasmus students take up rooms in apartments where the other students are coming from all across the world, and — guess what — these are usually the ones whose language skills improve the most.
9) Read up and find out on what days weird things happen in that city (and country). Accepted opening hours and opening days can vary quite a lot, and I’m not just talking about obvious things like siestas in Spain.
10) Eat Baked Beans for the last time and prepare your digestive system for an extremely delicious year ahead.