The Erasmus Student Network is an organisation that I hadn’t heard of before arriving at my first placement in Salamanca, though I soon realised that they had a pretty prominent presence there. ESN is a non-profit student organisation with members across Europe, consisting of 528 stations in forty different countries. (For a full list of their locations, see here)
The ESN group in Salamanca was largely responsible for the social events, intended to connect mobility students through cultural activities and trips. One of their main initiatives when I was there was the Buddy Programme, a programme which connected the visiting student with a native to help them with any language, cultural or practical questions that might arise. In return, the native student has the opportunity to practise another language. I’ve mentioned a few times in past blogs the importance of getting connected with native speakers, not only to improve your language abilities but also so you have at least one contact for your time abroad. The Buddy Programme offers a formal and more secure way of doing this than advertising on social media perhaps would.
The ESNcard is another important factor that is offered by this organisation. The ESNcard works as a student discount card, with one of the main partners being Ryanair. It cost me £10 to join (prices may vary between stations) and you have to take a valid ID photo with you if you’re signing up in person. I made back that £10 the first time I used the Ryanair discount, which offers you free 20kg hold luggage and 15% off your airfare. To receive the discount, you have to input your card number into the Ryanair site, wait for it to contact ESN and then book through their student section. The offer is valid on eight single flights or four return flights before June of the relevant academic year. (Find the complete details here) Other ESN partners include: Uniplaces, who offer 25% off their service fee, 10% discount at Hostelling International and 10-15% off with Flixbus France, Italy and Germany. (For a full list of partners, see here)
The Erasmus Student Network was an important money saving factor in my year abroad, but, more importantly, it offered a way to connect with both other Erasmus students and natives within the city. I highly recommend visiting their site and seeing if they have a section established in your host cities.
(Although not an ESN partner, Flybe also offers student discount for anyone travelling abroad. Receive two pieces of 23kg hold luggage for the price of one by showing a valid student ID at the check-in desk.)
As always, if you have any questions on this subject, feel free to get in touch.