Back to University: Tips and Advice for your Exchange
It’s a time in your life where your main goal will be to enjoy life and explore the world. Don’t put pressure on yourself on what the end result should be like, as it’s something experienced differently by everyone.
Some time ago, you made a very exciting, but also frightening, decision. You decided to apply to the Erasmus+ programme, an experience that will undoubtedly become one of the most memorable periods of your life. As the time of your big adventure gets closer, there certainly is a list of things that must be worrying you. Even if you just moved to your exchange country, it’s a whole new world that you need to explore. But don’t worry, ESN is there to help you have an amazing Erasmus+ experience.
Bring a piece of your home
As you are getting your suitcases ready, between your summer swimsuit and your winter coat, you realise that you can’t bring your whole life with you. But what you definitely should not forget to bring is a piece of your home, just in case you get homesick! Pictures of your friends and family to hang in your room, some recipes and local products to cook for the international dinner that local ESN sections love to organise (because who doesn't love food?) and also your national flag, to use at events where you want to represent your country!
Search for the local ESN section
Even before you get your suitcase ready, there is a small voice in your head making you worry about some challenging things that you need to figure out. “How do I find a place to stay?”, “How do I get there?”, “How do I find friends?” and the most usual question: “Sorry, could you help me?” Then one voice answers. “Of course!” It’s the voice of a volunteer from ESN. The Erasmus Student Network, where Students Help Students. Search for the local section of your university and apply for a buddy. They can help you with all your big and small questions, they will be a friend in a new city, connect you to other exchange or local students through their events, even help you with having an experience that’s close to the heart of the local traditional culture.
Join ESN events
During the semester, local ESNers, even though all of them are volunteers, really enjoy helping exchange students to have an amazing experience. They offer a lot of services and organise a variety of events, so make sure to follow your local section on social media so that you don’t miss anything. Especially during the beginning, the help of ESN can prove very useful! A warm welcome that includes events with international students will help you get a first feeling of what the rest of your experience will be like!
Share your culture
Sharing our traditions with each other is the reason we come together in ESN. Activities for the exchange students where one can discover the traditional food, dances, and customs usually take place to promote the idea of uniting through our different cultures. You might also want to look out for events where you can learn phrases in the foreign language of a friend, a great way to start learning a new language.
Buy the ESNcard
One of the most important services ESN can offer you is the ESNcard. A discount card that will help you save money to make your adventures even longer. From housing to transportation, shipping services, and local stores, it provides a wide range of offers. You can ask the local section of your exchange city for it! For more information about the card please check ESNcard.org.
Volunteering during your Erasmus is your chance to contribute to the causes that you find are important and concern the local society. You are given the advantage of more free time than you’d have if you were back at home.
Learn how to be independent
For some, the Erasmus+ exchange is the first chance they get to live alone. That means you will become more responsible, independent and improve on many aspects of your daily life. Especially budgeting will be one of the main ones, as finding ways to make your travels around Europe happen will become a habit. Those trips will add to the bonding experience with those people, who will prove to become lifelong friends despite the distance.
The experience of going on Erasmus+ is definitely one of the most memorable ones in a person’s life. The growth that comes with it is inevitable and the change that people see in their lives is considered to be equal of what would have otherwise taken several regular years. A new life in a culture with new friends. It feels as if you are getting a chance to live your dream life scenario. You are responsible for what you make of this opportunity. Don’t waste it. Use it to the fullest and don’t miss out on adventures because they were made on a whim. Learn from the choices you will make and explore what this experience can offer you. But above all don’t forget this is a journey you are making for yourself, with yourself and about yourself. Let it be a good one.
Starting my path as a volunteer in the network, I was more than thrilled to discover that ESN does not only stand for parties and drinks. In fact, it is so much more.