I am, like many others, preparing for my year abroad. This is the year I have been waiting for since I applied for university and it couldn’t come soon enough. But first; PREPARATION.
I know this isn’t going to be all fun and games. There’s finding a flat, sorting out flights, bank accounts and maybe phone contracts (because you know, Brexit). I’m going to be writing about all the important things you need to sort out before you get on that plane and say goodbye to England.
This may be obvious, but we all need a place to live for the year. Even though I have not 100% confirmed my internship, I have a rough idea of the city I am going to and have already started saving some flats to sort out when my internship is confirmed. I am a very prepared and organised person which can definitely come in handy when flat searching. I definitely recommend getting a head start to find the best place at the best price. Here are the best European student accommodation websites:
Uniplaces is worldwide so you can find somewhere to live practically anywhere in the world. Quite a few of them are approved by their staff (these are the ones I’d preferably go for), with videos of the staff walking around the place.
Spotahome only have a few cities in Europe. Pretty much the main ones like London, Brussels, Madrid, etc. Like uniplaces, they have a few that are approved and viewed by their staff.
Erasmus don’t just provide funding for European year abroads, they have handy things like forums, checklists and accommodation searches. This is handy for pretty much all of your worries and concerns.
I am personally going to Spain! So, for those of you going there too I can personally recommend idealista. They have places in pretty much the whole of Spain, and you get the choice to choose exactly where it is you want to look for places in by selecting areas on a map or drawing your own search area. However, definitely take precaution as I have heard of a few companies who scam students. If something is too cheap to be true, don’t risk it.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
I cannot stress this enough, you do not want to be the type of person who is basically living like a tourist. Immerse yourself into the culture, get to know the people andpractice or learn the language. For example, when it comes to food try to submerge yourself in the full experience and don’t just go to your local McDonalds or KFC, try places you can’t find where you live! Most of the time they’re cheaper and definitely a lot nicer!
STILL WANT THOSE STUDENT DISCOUNTS?
Get an International Student Identity Card. If you already have one, great! But make sure it will be valid. For those that don’t have one, it only costs £15 and you get student discounts across a variety of shops, restaurants, services, etc. throughout the WORLD. It is also a form of student ID. This is basically a must have for students! Get yours at https://www.myisic.co.uk
BANK ACCOUNTS AND PHONES
If you’re doing an internship and getting paid, it will probably be a lot better to open a local bank account. This will make getting paid easier and you will most likely get your full pay, saving on non-sterling transaction fees. Equally, a lot of landlords would prefer a local bank account to make paying rent and bills easier. I’d look for the accounts that have online banking, no fees and are specifically targeted towards young people (usually between 18 and 29). For those going to Spain, so far my personal favourite is the BBVA Blue account.
Having a local sim card may also come in handy. At the moment, we are still allowed to use our data, minutes and texts through Europe which is always handy. However, if we do leave the EU with a no-deal this may change, and it will be a good idea to get a sim card in the country you’re going to. I recommend one with a good amount of data (a lot of places, like Spain, don’t have many Wi-Fi spots so it will definitely come in handy) and international calls included.
Firstly, make sure your passport is in date. I know it is suggested to have at least 6 months left because of Brexit, but I personally would make sure it is at least 12 months. It will take a lot longer to renew your passport while you’re abroad, particularly if you’re outside of Europe.
2. EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD
Now because of Brexit no one knows if they will still be valid or not, but it is still important to get one just in case. Even if you already have one, you still need to get a new one specifically for students. Here’s the link to the application https://assets.nhs.uk/prod/documents/EHIC-application-form.pdf
WHAT ABOUT BREXIT – ERASMUS STUDENTS?
For those studying in Europe and getting Erasmus funding this is important. Still apply! If there is a “no-deal Brexit”, the government have come up with “The Government Guarantee”. This means that if you apply, the government should cover funding promised by Erasmus. For more information, I recommend taking a look at the Erasmus+ website (https://www.erasmusplus.org.uk/brexit-update).
Hopefully this was helpful getting ready to leave England and made you even more excited to go to a new country for a whole year. So many people have told me that it was a great experience and they would easily do it over and over again. Some have even graduated and moved there permanently. Doing all the research on what to do, looking for places to live, getting an idea of flight prices has made it feel so real and I cannot wait to finally be able to go!