Erasmus arrival tips in Madrid

Moving to a new city in a different country for an Erasmus study semester is an exciting yet scary thing to do as a student. I arrived in Madrid for my study abroad experience homeless and clueless. Yet within 48 hours I had found accommodation, made friends and started my induction at university – here’s how to make the most of your first couple of days in your new city!

1. Don’t stress

I’d spent my summer searching for a flat in Madrid with no luck. I was super stressed to be arriving without anywhere to live. Within hours of landing, a landlord contacted me and I was able to set up a viewing that evening and later signed the contract the same day. Try to remember that it will always work out in the end even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

2. Be confident

On my first induction day at university, I was pretty nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. I kept my ears wigging for English and approached any English-speaking person. Soon enough I had made 10 new Facebook friends! Everyone was just as keen to make new friends because everyone is in the same boat.

3. Go to every social activity you can

Although at times all I wanted to do was to catch up on Netflix, I semi-forced myself to go to all the social events organised by the university in my first couple of days. I wanted to maximise my chances of making as many friends as possible. It was a great way to meet people from all over the world and to explore Madrid. My highlight was an afternoon spent at the Bellas Artes rooftop bar which has since become my favourite spot in Madrid.

4. Be prepared to get lost

When you move to a new city, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will get lost! It’s difficult to get your bearings when you don’t recognise anything around you. It will take time so be patient and enjoy seeing the sights this new city has to offer. Google Maps is always a lifesaver.

5. Spend, spend, spend

Expect to blow your budget quickly. There will be lots of unexpected spending that you might have missed out of your budget – I forgot about transport costs and paying for textbooks. I also had to pay for my gym membership upfront. The countless tinto de veranos start to add up as do the random panicked purchases at Madrid’s famous El Rastro flea market. Your student loan is a welcome pick-me-up but doesn’t last long.

6. Keep busy

Keeping busy is key to keeping homesickness at bay. Say ‘Yes’ to everything and get involved with any opportunities that come your way. You probably won’t have any time to chill in your first week as you will be unpacking, setting up, finding your way around the city, attending induction days, socialising, shopping and meeting a bunch of new people.

7. Enjoy it

When you first arrive, you may feel scared and anxious. Try not to worry and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Initially I felt overwhelmed and thought that 4 months studying seemed like a very long time. This is not the case as your semester will fly by so make the most of it while you can!

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