Going on an Erasmus experience means tons of different stuff happening all at once: feelings, experiences, adventures, travels and lots of parties. There are good moments and there are awesome moments but sometimes life does indeed test your skills of survival and your ability to unravel yourself without mommie’s help. In this article there are a few easy tips to make it easier the first days of adaptation if you’re alone in a new city/country.
Supermarket / Kitchen
OK you have just arrived your new home or the hostel/Airbnb, you put down your bags and you’re feeling tired. Probably you could use a shower right now or something to eat and drink.
At this point, my tip is:
– If you’re in a hostel just go around and find some pizza place around there or some place that just seems good to you in the city centre
Follow your instinct: when we’re out of our comfort zone it’s wise to follow your inside voice.
Take your time to breed the new surrounding atmosphere and be open to meet new people and try new things always.
– If you’re lucky enough to already have found a place to sleep, a room, an apartment or a home you should find the nearest supermarket and go shop for some basic stuff that you will need for sure: pasta (welcome to your everyday easy cooking carbs supplier), rice, olive oil, salt, garlics, onions, tomato or pesto paste, fruit, veggies and water.
Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for the supermarket discount card, you will go there lots of times anyway so might better have the discounts, right?
Wash your hands, time to make your first meal abroad!
You should have this in mind, YOU WILL HAVE TO COOK. If you’re already a “Cristiano Ronaldo” of the knifes and pots you’ll be fine, but if you never touched a stove before, well, prepare yourself to discover skills you didn’t even imagine you had. The keyword is “improvisation”. Once again pasta could help your imagination to fly and to create the world’s most imaginative dishes. Couscous are also a good alternative to spaghetti; they are versatile, and you could eat them pretty much with everything! Protein I would advise you to choose chicken: it’s not expensive and works well with a lot of things plus it’s a lean protein. If you need some good and cheap recipes don’t hesitate to contact me! (Don’t forget to always have some veggies or fruit in your meal, before, during or after).
Most of the time you will just say “f*ck that” and eat some junk food, but always keep a good diet on your mind
Sharing a flat is also a great experience in learning new cooking skills, since you will learn how others cook and eat. If your roommates are from different countries or share a different cultural/religious root than yours, it will be even more for you to learn.
Don’t worry! You are not the first and you will not be the last one to learn how to survive in the kitchen. You will get used to that and for sure you will come back home with a bunch of new dishes to surprise your family and friends.
Living in a new city means you don’t know the places and you don’t know where “this” is or “that”, so you will have to say goodbye to your hometown car and turn ON your sense of orientation. Google Maps is an excellent and very useful app that can really help you move around in the first weeks. It shows metro and buses schedules in real time and provides you information about either that coffee or restaurant you really want to go is either good or bad, open or closed, far or near, etc.
Eventually you will have to have your own metro/bus card to move around or even a bike. Be informed about your University/ERASMUS discounts: normally universities provide huge discounts of transportation to ERASMUS students, (I payed 10€ for an annual whole city areas bus card in Bologna! One-year bus card for 10€ basically!) so pay attention to that information in their website or in the International Exchange Student Desk.
Oh, damn, you never did laundry and now you’re in front of a weird machine with different buttons and programmes that you only watched your mom use and you didn’t even got closer once and on top of that there are different liquids to add in different compartments… WTF?!
The only thing you need to know is “how to separate colours”:
– Either you wash all-white clothes, or you wash the rest of the clothes. Easy: YOU CAN’T MIX WHITE WITH COLOURS. After this you just gather a huge amount of clothes (coloured or non-coloured/white) and throw them in the washing machine.
After this time for the detergents…
Normally washing machines have some type of drawer in which you put the detergents. Open it, you will see 3 compartments: one for normal soap, the other for the softener and a last one for bleach.
For white clothes you can use all three of them, but coloured clothes shouldn’t take bleach for it could, of course, unbleach your beautiful lingerie…
Temperature… Well once again white clothes should be washed at around 60°/80° degrees and coloured clothes at around 30°/40°.
Time to pray for no shrinking or unbleached clothes
OK, YOU’VE DONE IT! Maybe you will get once or twice wrong with the temperature or the amount of liquid, but everything will be fine in the end! Time and practice will get you an expert! Also YouTube and Internet can really help you, watch some tutorials!
If by any case you don’t have a washing machine in your home, ignore completely the information above and go to the nearest self-service laundry! 🙂
All this information can sound a little too much for you, but everything eventually will happen to you in its certain time. Don’t be afraid to ask or to do the housework stuff, you’re an ERASMUS student, you’re now more able and more adaptable to life circumstances. Live your experience to the fullest
Written by Francisco
He’s Francisco born and raised in Porto. His friends say he is the best “buddy” (the person that welcomes people in their city and show them around the places and gives them tips). He speaks 6 idioms and hate routines and standardized persons and situations. Always thirsty to learn more and more about different cultures, languages, religions and opinions about everything. “I try to live my life everyday to the fullest and I thank everyday to be here”