I’ve spent the last year of my degree at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England, thanks to the Erasmus+ programme. I’m telling you about my one year stay here. If you consider or are about to go for this fabulous experience, first of all congratulations, you will not regret it. But now, before the departure, we have to talk about the technical aspect of things…
1- What to do before departure
The informative meetings started 10 months in advance at my university in France, during my second year. It was all about explaining how it was going to go, all the administrative stuff to do etc… And there’s a lot. Indeed, you will see some students giving up while building up the file because it requires lots of time and patience. We were hundreds of students to attend the first meetings, for a limited number of admitted of course. But the amount of people was going down from one meeting to another! So hang on tight, and en route!
To choose the country/city of destination, it’s most of all a question of personal taste, and depends on what course you follow! I was doing a degree called “Langues Etrangères Appliquée Anglais Chinois”, a foreign language study, focusing on English and Mandarin Chinese. I therefore had a passion for England and its surroundings for year. My choice was logically the United-Kingdom. You can make multiple wishes to maximise your chances of being admitted. I had done 4 choices, the 4 available unis in English countries, each having priority on the next. You obviously have to take into account your language level for the country of destination you choose: you will come back bilingual, but you still have to know basics and be able to follow classes, which are in the language of the country. The weather can also help you decide: personally, let’s say I just accepted England’s! Think about distance as well (family, friends, girlfriend/boyfriend), the cost of the journey that comes with it, and the cost of life once there (even more if the currency is different).
For the file, you will be asked to give a good number of basic papers (identity card…), but also some for which you will have to prepare in advance to get them. I am not going to list you all the papers, because everything should be written on your file, but if you have any specific questions, write to us on Instagram!
Once the file completed and handed in, you will have to wait a bit before getting news back (around a month), where they’ll announce to you if you got admitted. If yes, new papers and administrative stuff will have to be done (but less complicated, I swear!), but you most of all have to focus on the learning agreement, I’ll come back to it later in this article.
To help you funding the Erasmus experience, some scholarships can be granted, their sum depending on which country you’re going to. Because yes, go study abroad has a cost, whether it’s through an exchange programme or by yourself: you will have to plan in advance. Indeed, there are suitcases to buy, plane tickets, moving in, life in general and leisure activities once there, it adds up quickly, especially when the cost of life is higher in the country of destination. Your savings will therefore save you.
Talking about budget, let’s talk about bank. You have to directly find out about banks in your home country, and the ones in the country of destination: sometimes, it’s more worth to open a bank account directly there, especially if you’re staying more than one year. Personally, I just opened an account in a French bank, offering a car for the people under 26 that enables to not have any added fees when withdrawing money or paying by card in the E.U. members countries.
Same thing for your phone contract: you either already have the “internet in Europe” option, or you have to pay an extra for it, or you can find out if another phone contracter is more worth in the country of destination, like O2, EE, Tesco in England. I already had the option included in my French phone contract.
For accommodation, I chose to live in a uni room on campus. I made wishes on the dedicated university website, and got one: a small room with a mirror and sink. I shared the bathroom and the kitchen with other students. The paiement happened every term, by online transfer. I personally think it’s better to live on campus for a year abroad: indeed, you’re in the heart of things, you’re near everything, and you’re more likely to meet people. If you go study abroad for several years, then why not start like this and them move out campus? By the way, the university gives priority to first year students to live on campus. The cost is more or less the same, it’s a question of personal taste and about it being more practical: without being there, it’s complicated to look for a flat in town… Which is only 15mins from campus by bus, and 30 on foot… Nearby.
- From September to June, Ryanair offers a discount of -15% on flights (8 trips, or 4 return tickets) for Erasmus students, with a big luggage included for these flights. Under conditions, such as booking a month in advance.
- You pay your home uni registration fees, not the one in the country you’re going to… Which is great because unlike in France, in some universities like in England, the fees are crazy (about 10 000€). You will therefore get the diploma from your university.
2- Once you’re there
Once arrived in England, I had to meet people from the Erasmus secretariat of the University of Kent to sort out this learning agreement… A drag! It’s all about choosing the modules, which have to be the equivalent of the ones you should’ve had at your home uni… Choose, or not! Indeed, often there’s either no availability anymore, or you just can’t take it, blablabla… Before getting the perfect learning agreement, the road is long! You’ll still have to modify it along the year. And of course, you have to do it all over again for the second term. Good luck, it’s the hardest!
Keep in mind that you’re probably going to need time to adapt to this whole new routine, but that you will. A kind of a transition phase. I’m talking about it more in my article on my experience itself in England.
Who says transition says meeting new people. Check the uni association/union, which plans activities and nights out very often… For reduced prices if you join.
Gyms are expensive in England, whereas in France you often have it included in the uni fees… In Canterbury, there are other ones in town which are cheaper, but I chose to go to uni’s because more practical for me and time saver.
The access to the library is of course free, often open 24h/24. The wifi is good, and available on all campus.
For public transports, check the memberships for students/young people because for me, the student year pass was about 200€. Or, if you don’t think you need one, you can buy student tickets for only one journey, or for the day.
There, you know everything. Don’t get too overwhelmed with all the administrative stuff to sort out, because you’ll quickly realise they’re all worth it in the end.
If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us on Instagram, I’ll gladly answer them. And please, enjoy, it’s a one-time experience!
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