Planning a year-abroad is incredibly challenging, especially if you decide to do a work placement. It is not the the work placement itself that proves challenge, nor the amount of interviews or applications you have to send off. These challenges are to be expected from any work placement, including those completed in the UK. What drives me completely nuts, stresses me out, makes me want to curl into a tiny ball and could possibly send me to an early grave is the amount of forms you have to fill in. I sometimes have a feeling that the ladies in the Erasmus office in Bristol have complete disregard for the fact that MOST of the people on their year abroad aren't using their Erasmus grant for boozing and snoozing their life away, but actually relying on it to pay things like, oh I don't know, RENT. I know I'm not the only one who has received a heartless email telling them that they can't possibly get their grant this month for such and such a reason and has been left feeling stranded and alone and afraid in a foreign country. It's completely unacceptable. If Erasmus claim to dish out grants for the whole year, then they need to actually provide the cash for the whole year. Regardless of whether the student is working or not, most of us choose to remain living abroad as long as possible, in order to continue improving our language skills - that is why we are on a year abroad in the first place.  There also seems to be the completely unrealistic expectation that students who move country will have consistent and immediate access to the internet, a scanner and a printer within the first week of them being there. Perhaps in Germany these expectations are realistic but I can safely say that finding these three things in Italy has proved near impossibile. Again, on emailing the Erasmus office I have been greeted with that stern 'you are an irresponsible student leaving this to the last minute' 'why didn't you print off a dozen copies before you left England' 'you clearly haven't read all the guidelines in the year abroad pack' response. What is the point of this office if not to support and encourage students on their year abroad? No one wants to be a penniless, frightened British hobo in a new town, where your only potential support comes from other penniless, frightened students. 

Erasmus need to up their game when it comes to their work placement students, because it is a fantastic cultural experience and enriches the European community. It is also an incredible way to learn another language and it would be a shame if financial difficulties prevented students from participating in this scheme. And to Erasmus offices everywhere: a little bit of kindness won't cost you.



  1. In my dealings with 'student support' offices I often find they aren't very supportive at all! In fact they've been quite rude towards me in the past over a situation I had absolutely no control over. I can imagine it feels a million times worse when you're depending on these people in a foreign country too. But I hope you manage to get everything sorted out!

  2. Oh Erasmus, this is what I do not miss. I was fortunate and had very supportive family who helped with my super cheap rent but lots of people got let down by their grants. I'm even meant to pay some of my grant back (a good £200) because I left two weeks before I said I would. It's annoying but put your foot down and complain you'll feel better and it'll get sorted. If not complain to your university. Hope it goes well!
    Nina from little nomad

  3. Hey! I'm an italian erasmus student and I've been in Bristol since October for my year abroad. I found your blog reading The Tab. Don't let the Erasmus Office to tear you down, doing an year abroad is an incredible and unique experience and it's worth it! In Italy we get half of the grant after three months of our departure and the rest when we get back! Is it cool, isn't it? -.-
    Btw you're not going to find any internet/printer/scanner easily in Italy, I love the UK for those things, we're living in the stone-age :)
    Sorry for my English but I started from scratch in October :)