Erasmus should be a university teaching experience, but it should also be a pleasant and stimulating period of life that brings serenity and a breath of fresh air. It’s a test to see how you get along abroad, a unique opportunity to forge ties, widen cultural barriers and learn foreign languages. In this post, find out where to go to Erasmus and what factors to take into account in order to find a balanced, stimulating program that is above all in line with your personality?
1. Universities and exams to validate
You should always remember that Erasmus program is an internship study trip at least on paper. In addition to the prestige of the university, it is important to contact those who have already been there: friends, Facebook groups, ESN of your university and check that there is a good offer of exams to be validated in Italy. It’s boring and it will take you a lot of time, but study in depth the sites of the host universities where all the important information can be found.
2. Cost of living
The Italian Erasmus scholarship still only covers part of the actual costs. However, the cost of living has to be weighted according to various parameters, as it is often based on prejudices or impressions one has as a tourist. Living abroad, you have different needs. Lisbon is known to be a cheap city, but rents have soared lately and transportation is expensive due to inefficiency. In Moscow, one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can get dozens of discounts and benefits.
3. Rental situation
Finding a house abroad is difficult and causes a lot of problems. In Lisbon, it took me a month to find a fixed place at an honest price, in a nice but poorly served neighborhood. In Moscow, I even had to avoid the problem, because the university automatically assigned a student dormitory: spartan, but dignified and full, near the metro.
There are those who don’t care and those who exclude half of Europe because of climate issues.
5. Spoken languages and culture
For vocational training, learning a bit of the local language is the minimum if you want to try to integrate into the city and touch the local culture, but how much are you really willing to do it? To what extent is English really understood by the locals?
6. University services for the student
With hindsight, this is one of the parameters that must be examined first, in Lisbon. In Moscow, people are welcoming and will accompany you to make the first cards and papers, there is a place in a very comfortable dormitory for only 23€ per month’s rent and you have to make a choice in terms of canteens, events, libraries, study rooms and even free psychological support.
7. Discounts for students
Check out the student discounts to make the most of your special status. To cite two opposite examples, in Moscow, a student can see a ballet at the Bol’shoi Theater for only €1.50, while in Lisbon, students don’t even get a discount on their metro pass.
Because the choice of the city and the neighbourhoods to live in, safety is also an important factor. Ask the girls who left before you did.
9. Connection with other cities or states to visit
If you want to take advantage of your new base to travel in the European Union, check the good connections with airports, trains and buses for travel and weekends in nearby cities.
10. Food quality
Living “in the North” often means having few choices of fresh vegetables during the winter season and adapting to eating a little of the same things, or spending as much to eat as in Italy. Consider your diet and preferences.
11. Efficiency of means of transport
The means of transportation or the ability to walk or bike are fundamental to your life in the city. In Lisbon, transportation was a disaster and the only way to get to university on time was to leave home an hour and a half early.
12. Cultural life, events, museums
For the European program, also evaluate the museum offer, events, associations and festivals of the destinations to be chosen.
13. Nature and the great outdoors
It may sound strange, but half of the people in Lisbon were mainly there to surf, there are huge beaches and Californian landscapes just a stone’s throw from the city that it is a pity not to exploit. In Moscow, the landscape is more monotonous, but the city’s parks are so vast that in winter you can go cross-country skiing, and the skating rinks are the largest in Europe.
14. Friendships and contacts
If you are undecided, you prefer a city where you have friends or contacts. Whether they’re lending you the minipimer for the first time or inviting you to tea when you’re lonely, having contacts abroad is always a valuable resource.
15. Personal interest and motivation
The last piece of advice is yours: let your heart and your sixth sense guide you. The most important thing is to choose where to go in the framework of Erasmus for Students. Have you ever had saudade before leaving or do you dream of the Northern Lights? An Andalusian flamenco or a kalinka? Choose a destination that inspires you, that you would really like to explore, and Erasmus program will be a success.