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Planning your Erasmus year | Our guide

Are you planning an Erasmus year and need some help? Fear not! Follow this practical guide and find out everything you need to know to prepare for your year abroad.

7 min read

Spending a year abroad on Erasmus can be a fantastic adventure. Yet figuring out how to get started with budgeting, accommodation, and financing isn’t always simple. To give you a leg up, N26 has put together some tips and tricks for managing your first Erasmus year like a pro. Read on to learn everything you need to know about preparing for your time abroad. 

Why go on Erasmus?

The Erasmus program—now called Erasmus+—is a European Union program that gives young people the chance to live and study abroad at partner universities. Internships abroad are also part of the program. 

Going abroad for an Erasmus year is an experience unlike any other, and one you’ll likely remember forever. There are numerous benefits to studying abroad with the program. Here are just a few in a long list:

  • Improving your language skills through cultural immersion
  • Exploring other cultures and opening your mind to new ways of thinking
  • Gaining self-confidence by finding your way around in a completely foreign environment
  • Meeting new friends from across the world
  • Boosting your CV for future career opportunities
  • Tackling a new challenge

If you’re up for exploring the world with Erasmus+, then you’ll need to thoroughly prepare so as to avoid any missteps along the way. So before your departure, review our tips on how to get ready for your next adventure. 

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Getting ready for your Erasmus year—what you need to know before you leave

Once your Erasmus+ application has been accepted, it’s time to start planning your time abroad. Here are a few tips to make the process easier:

  • Take the language tests well in advance (they’re valid for two years). That way you won’t have to worry about taking them just before you leave.
  • If you’re going to Europe, apply for your European health insurance card so that your medical costs will be covered if you fall ill.
  • Scan all your IDs and official documents and save a digital copy. This way, if they’re lost or stolen, you’ll always have a way to verify your identity, even on the other side of the world.
  • Make a list of local emergency numbers, including emergency services, fire brigade, police, French embassy, university, future roommates, etc.
  • If the currency of your destination country isn’t the same as yours, we recommend getting some money in the local currency before you leave.
  • Check that the country you’re headed to is included in your phone contract. If you’re staying in the European Union, there’s a good chance that it is. If not, depending on the length of your Erasmus exchange, it might be worth getting a local SIM card to top up your phone with credit.
  • Leave at least two weeks before your start date. This will give you time to get settled and prepare for the coming year.

How to find accommodation

Looking for accommodation while on Erasmus can be stressful and confusing. Should you look for lodging before you leave or once you’re there? Should you live in a shared house, a private apartment, or a student flat? Here are our tips for finding accommodation during your Erasmus period:

  • If you’re an anxious traveler, we suggest you look for accommodation before you leave. University dorms usually have rooms available for international students, and you can book several months in advance.
  • Join student Facebook groups in the city where you’ll be staying and post messages to say that you’re looking for accommodation.
  • Join expat groups and ask members for advice on finding accommodation in the city. They may be able to tell you what to look out for and what to avoid.
  • Search local housing and flat sharing websites. In the UK, for example, SpareRoom and Rightmove are especially popular.
  • Research the average rent in the city so you don’t get ripped off.
  • Prioritize areas that offer easy access to your university.
  • Find out what documents you need to provide, what the rental conditions are (notice period, deposit, guarantors) and prepare your applications in advance so that you can apply quickly.

Once you’ve found your home away from home, you’ll need to assess the cost of your stay and decide how to finance it. Read on for tips on how to do exactly that!

Financing your studies with an Erasmus grant

Financing a year abroad should be planned well in advance. Depending on the country you’re going to, the cost of living can be much higher than it is in your home country. This is particularly true if you go to London, Dublin, Amsterdam, or any Scandinavian country. You’ll also need to plan for travel costs and accommodation. Luckily, Erasmus+ grants have been created to give students a helping hand. There are two types of grants available:

  • Erasmus+ study grant. The grant amount is between €150 and €300 per month for a period of 3 to 12 months. The amount granted depends on the duration of your stay, the cost of living in your chosen country, and its distance from France.
  • Erasmus+ internship grant. This amount varies from €300 to €450 per month for 2 to 12 months.

There are other grants available for students with disabilities. If you have a grant based on social criteria in France, note that you can also benefit from the Aide à la mobilité internationale, which grants you €400 per month for the duration of your Erasmus stay for a maximum duration of 9 months. To apply, contact the international relations office on your campus. Make sure you apply well in advance, as the application process can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months.

Finally, there are also regional, municipal, foundation, exchange organization, or even university grants to help students finance their Erasmus stay. You can find the complete list (in French) at etudiant.gouv.fr.

Need to supplement your funding to study abroad on Erasmus? Why not look for a student job? Check out our article on how to find a summer job or student job to finance your Erasmus stay.

Learn how to manage your budget during your Erasmus year

Ready for takeoff? Avoid unpleasant surprises in your bank account once you arrive with these money-management tips:

  • Set a daily budget. You’ve probably set a monthly budget for your Erasmus stay, but have you calculated how much you can spend per day? By setting a daily budget, you’ll be able to assess how much cash you can shell out for food, essentials, fun, and leisure all while staying on track for the month.
  • Download a budgeting app. It’s hard to keep track of your expenses, especially when you’ve got other things on your mind—like improving your language skills or getting used to a new country. By keeping track of your expenses with an app, you’ll get a handle on daily expenses and their impact on your overall budget.
  • Leave some space in your budget for any unforeseen expenses. If you can, it’s worth considering adding about 10% to your initial budget to cover any unforeseen events, such as missed flights, lost papers, theft, etc.
  • Ask local students about good deals. The best way to avoid spending too much money on an exchange abroad is to live like the local students. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and acquaintances for tips on good deals—they might be able to tip you off to a free day at museums, bars or shops offering discounts for students, and more. 

Find out more with our tips for saving money as a student here.

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Starting the Erasmus+ program? Open a free N26 account! 

Pack your bags and get the flexibility you deserve during your Erasmus year by opening an N26 Standard account. Our free bank account allows you to manage your money right from your phone with zero paperwork, and you’ll be able to make payments in all currencies free of charge. And thanks to real-time push notifications, there are no more surprises at the end of the month—you can always see your account balance in real-time. Plus, our Statistics features automatically categorizes your spending each month—particularly handy for spotting opportunities to save. So why wait? Open your N26 account today! 

By N26

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