You finally got accepted to the Erasmus exchange programme. Having run back and forth to the Erasmus coordinator to fix problems with documents and perpetually change your Learning Agreement (don’t tell me you never had to do it), you’re in at last. In a moment you'll have been one of those Erasmus students you've heard so much about. You’re starting to plan your future life, counting days till your Erasmus kicks in.
It's all cool, but hold your horses for a moment, you still have some things to do before leaving.
Firstly, buy the flight ticket. The cheaper the better, you say? Right. And then you'll be cursing roundly for having to wait a dozen or so hours at the airport.
Find a place to live BEFORE going there. By the time you get there most of the flats'll have been really expensive, and trust me, running from one place to another and viewing flats can be really tiring. Why waste your time, which you could be spending adapting to life and enjoying the first moments in new coutry? It’s a good option to contact local a ESN section, they'll always help you, or at least, give you a handful of useful tips.
Pack up your things, you’re going to spend there at least 5 months of your life. It doesn’t mean you have to take the content of your entire house with you. You need to take neither your Play Station, nor a whole box of jewellery…
At last the day has come and you’ve made it. You get onto a plane, arrive at the place and NOW WHAT..? Well, new country, new language, new people… Fortunatelly there’s either a buddy, or other person who might help you out at the begining. You’d have never guessed how hard it'd be to manage the most obvious things like buying new sim card or organising your time table.
Anyway, you still have few days before the classes begin, don’t you? So.. LET’S PARTYY! You'll have joined all Erasmus groups on Facebook, so now the level of notifications and invitations is incredibly high: the Welcome Week, Ice-braking games, "Eurodinners", parties, city tours and much, much more. You’d like to go everywhere, huh? Go, enjoy and meet new people. Talk, drink, have tons of fun and say good bye to sleep, you won't have much time for it anymore. Wherever you go you see new people, new faces, of course remembering their names after the first meeting is almost impossible, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get drunk with them. This is how it starts, the life they've told you about is now your own life. Parties, hangover, friends, more friends, fun - welcome to new reality.
First day at uni and having to change your Learning Agreement again. Yes, it’s normal that not all the subjects you have chosen can fit around your schedule. This day is different to what you have imagined. Especially if no one speaks English, literally NO ONE. Neither students, nor the lecturers (really common in the Mediterranean countries). So you spend the day alone – you eat alone, spend breaks alone, sit alone in classes, a real horror. So, as far as lectures are concerned, don’t worry if you don’t understand a lot, try to make friends with locals, even though they might keep some distance first, they’ll usually be helpfull in the end. You’re Erasmus, you’re not there for studying, anyway, you won’t have time for it.
Going back to languages, have you already met anyone from your country? Probably yes, so now you can appreciate talking in your mother tongue. You’d have never guessed how much you'd miss it here. Unless you have realised that more than 50% Erasmus students here are from your country. Well, at least you can meet people who are similar to you in some way.
Ok, so, you've made it through the first wave of initial issues, now go back to parties, later you’ll find out that there are more and more problematic things that you’d never thought could matter. Anyway, enjoy!