1. Meet people from different backgrounds and nationalities
During your Erasmus, you will have the chance to meet many new people. However, be sure to have an international mindset in doing so. Do not ever restrict yourself to one community, especially your own. The worst thing that can happen is being stuck with people from your own country and never experiencing the true environment you are in!
2. Build lasting bonds with people you feel closest to
Out of all the new friends you will have, some will stand out naturally. These friends will be the ones you will remember the most and still be in contact with for years to come.
3. Explore the new city you are living in
If you want to truly say “I have lived there,” you have to know the fine details about the city which means not only the main square and most famous parts. Go explore the suburbs and distant neighbourhoods, delve into little alleys which seem off the beaten path. You might find something that surprises you and maybe a great new place to hang out.
4. Practice your language skills. Seriously, there is no better opportunity!
Don’t let the new language environment scare you, this is the best thing that can happen to you! In most cases you do not have any other chance but to speak that language, be it English, French, Spanish or Italian. Since practice makes perfect, practicing out of necessity will definitely improve your language skills.
5. Advanced - if the local language is a not so widely spoken language, try to learn at least the basics of it
Let’s face it, learning a language you are not familiar with is difficult to do in a short period of time. But even if that is the case, learning bits of the language can greatly help in getting accustomed to the local people and make your life so much easier in general. Similarly, those small words you have learned will stay with you forever as one of the greatest reminders of your exchange experience.
6. Change your food
Rather than eating the usual and going to restaurants which serve familiar things to your own cuisine, try new things. You are not there to live your life at home but to experience the new. No matter how different it may seem, change your eating habits. Go local, adapt to the food culture of the country you are in!
7. Do something you have never done before
By going on Erasmus, you have already made a big change in your life. But why not take this further? Do at least one thing that is on your never-have-I-ever list and make your Erasmus even more unforgettable! Go sky-diving; join that ridiculous contest or something totally different. No matter what, be sure that there won’t be any regrets later!
8. Remember to take lots of photos
Memory is a delicate thing. A few years after your exchange, some details will unfortunately begin to fade. That is why documentation is key! Take a good camera with you and do not hesitate to take loads of pictures and archive them thoroughly. Furthermore, be sure to ask your friends for their archives as well. Do this while you are still on Erasmus, because it will be harder to collect everything later.
9. Travel! As much as you can.
The ultimate payoff of any exchange experience is undoubtedly the “wanderlust”. Travel around the country and region as much as you can, preferably with a close group of friends. Stories from your journeys will be the ones you will never get sick of telling others.
10. Create a Memory Box
Throughout your Erasmus, you will collect many mementos ranging from tickets to coins or even silly little notes sent by your friends. Save them all! After you return home, create a little memory box for yourself. Nothing will you down memory lane as fast as going through that box a few years later.
11. Learn from your new adventure!
Remember that studying in class is not the only way to learn. Erasmus might in fact be your biggest learning experience, test or exam yet. For some of you, it will be an opportunity to become financially more independent, others might learn to feel more comfortable around new people from different countries, or you might pick up some pretty cool cooking skills. With each new encounter, you are acquiring more knowledge than ever. So listen to your new teachers both in and outside the classroom and gain a different perspective. Also, know that you will definitely teach others something along the way.
12. Know that this is your time!
All in all, either for a semester or two, this is your time to shine. Make the most out of it in any way you can!