Breaking Out of the Erasmus Bubble

When you start out on your year abroad adventure, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of only meeting your fellow anglophone students. While this can be great for making friends and going out, it’s not massively helpful if you’re supposed to be immersing yourself in the language and culture. To help you out, I’ve thought back to my year abroad to figure out what to do and what not to do so you can break out of the English-speaking Erasmus bubble. 

By Indigo Officer

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1. Be proactive

This might seem like a given, but you really have to be the one to put in the effort if you want to get out there and meet some native speakers. Send out messages to people you meet at parties and events – it’s likely they’ll be flattered! Don’t be afraid to seize any opportunity you can to speak to people – when I was in Turin, we found out our AirBnB host had a twenty-year-old daughter who was studying at the same uni as us so asked them to bring her along when we checked out. It was a great way to meet even more people, as once we’d been out for dinner with her, she introduced us to the rest of her friends. 

2. Make sure you do actually practise your language

Once you’ve met some native speakers, you’re over the first hurdle, but it doesn’t stop there!  People will often want to speak to you so they can practise their English but remember: it’s your year abroad and you’re the one who’s there to learn. It’s okay to speak English sometimes and it’ll help to make friends, but don’t worry about being firm to make sure you get some real conversation practice in. 

3. Live with native speakers

One surefire way to break out of the Erasmus bubble is to live with native speakers. You’ll be speaking morning to night and having everyday conversations in your target language will really help your confidence, as well as your language skills. If you get along well with your flatmates, you’ll have the added bonus of getting to meet their friends and meet even more new people who you wouldn’t have otherwise known!

4. Shop at local markets

Going into lockdown while I was in Italy did limit options for getting out and speaking, but one thing that always remained open was the markets. It was a great way to engage with the language in a new way, and involves so much more talking than a quick, impersonal trip to the supermarket. The stallholders were always really friendly and happy to talk about their produce. A daily trip to the market was the best way to learn more about local food and seasonality, while also bettering my Italian. It’s really good for immersing yourself in the culture outside of your usual activities and nights out. 

5. Have fun!

While the main purpose of your year abroad is to improve your language skills and better your understanding of other cultures, it’s important not to forget to have fun! Language learning should be an enjoyable experience – don’t let it stress you out. Try to strike a balance between getting to know some native speakers and meeting your fellow British students who will form an integral part of your year abroad memories!

Where would you go for your year abroad? Let us know!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Erasmus mean? 

ERASMUS is a backronym meaning European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.

Who is eligible for Erasmus?

To be eligible for Erasmus you must be studying an official degree or diploma and have successfully completed your first year. 

Is the Erasmus program free?

The Erasmus program provides free movement and exchange for students, between registered universities. You won’t need to pay for tuition at the host university but you will need to budget for things like flights, accommodation and food. 

Do you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share? Then let us know in the comments below or send us a DM @studenttraveltipsuk on Instagram.

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