What do Erasmus students need to know before they go?


Setting off on an Erasmus this year? Follow our guide to make sure you know all that you need to

The Erasmus program, which turns 30 this year, will see hundreds of British students travel outside the UK to experience living life abroad. To date, over 300,000 British students have benefitted from the Erasmus exchange programme, and 9 million participants have embraced the opportunity to spend a year or a semester abroad.

According to data from the student exchange programme, the UK is the third most popular destination. However, the UK’s recent decision to leave the EU has overshadowed the region’s future in the scheme and academics have warned that Brexit would potentially restrict movement of British students.

For the remaining 18 months, British and European students can continue to cash in on the freedom to travel and explore new cultures and countries.

Spotahome, the startup focused on mid to long term residential rentals, helps thousands of students find the perfect home for the duration of their Erasmus studies in some of most desired Erasmus locations including Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid, Dublin, London, Milan, and Paris amongst others.  Spotahome has created a short guide which reveals the key (and lesser known) aspects that students need to consider before moving to a different European country. From the cost of a Big Mac to the average number of days of sun per year, the rate of youth unemployment or the average monthly cost to rent an apartment, amongst others, these are some of the indicators that will help students to settle into their new life.

Employment opportunities

An intelligent criterion for choosing a destination is to look at the youth unemployment rate, especially if your Erasmus semester is carried out during your final year of studies. Taking advantage of the exchange to gain professional experience in a foreign country can be beneficial in the future if the student applies for a position in that same country, and can also be helpful in developing a professional lexicon in a foreign language. According to the data research agency Statista, northern European countries such as the UK (12%), Germany (7%), and Austria (11%) are the countries that offer the most opportunities since they have the lowest unemployment rates for the under-25 age group.  

If you do find a job in your host country, something to keep in mind is that the number of paid vacation days can vary greatly from country to country. In fact, France is one of the most generous European countries, offering 25 paid days annual leave, closely followed by Spain and Austria at 22 days. Unfortunately, the UK is one of the least generous, offering only 20 days paid vacation. 

Differences in rents

The rental asking price of a standard two-bedroom apartment located in the city centre of most European cities is approximately €600 per month. The exception is of course the UK, where this average increases to £902. According to Erasmus figures, the top three countries that British students travel to is France, Germany and Spain. The average rents in these across the main cities are €598, €600, and €622. 

Umbrella or sunglasses?

The fact that we are sadder on rainy days or happier and active when the sun is out is no coincidence. Science has proved that climatology has a direct effect on our wellbeing, both physical and mental. In fact, there is a branch of science called “Medical Biometeorology” that studies how meteorological phenomena influence us mentally and emotionally. An excess of rain and a deficit in the number of sunshine hours can cause the neurological connections in the brain to undergo changes. Therefore, those who need the sun to keep up their good mood should opt for a destination like Spain or Italy, countries with experience the lowest rainfall. Those who prefer “Singing in the Rain” can opt for other countries such as Ireland (173 days) or Belgium (141 days) to enjoy their Erasmus term. 

Fancy going for a pint?

Going out for a few pints might be a typical British past time, but surprisingly the Brits are not the biggest drinkers. As far as per capita consumption is concerned, Austrians (105litres/year), Germans (105 litres/year) and the Irish (97 litres/year) overtake the Brits in the ranking.  It’s important to adapt the social customs of the host country so those who travel to Italy or France need to be aware that the beer consumption per capita will be more limited than in the UK, where the average Brit consumes 68 litres annually.

Gay-friendly Destinations

The UK and the rest of Western Europe is extremely “gay-friendly.” There are countries across the continent that have long established equal rights for the LGBT community, such as equal marriage rights. The pioneers of same sex marriages were the Belgians, followed by the Spaniards, and Germany is the latest country to join the ranks. At present, Italy and Austria still only recognise the union between same-sex couples as a civil union. 

For students concerned about going abroad for their Erasmus term, they needn’t worry. Their time abroad will undoubtedly be a unique experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.




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