Make sure you're well prepared for your exchange visit.
Your host country
Find as much information as you can to prepare yourself. Talk to other students and make sure you are aware of local issues.
You will find useful information on the following websites:
- Travel guides from ArrivalGuides.com. All travel guides are in pdf format, free to download, easy to print and bring along on your placement. These full colour travel guides include pictures and travel maps, information boxes with important phone numbers, taxi services and public transportation details.
- The UK Government has pages of country-specific foreign travel advice.
- The UK Government also have a page on how to deal with a crisis overseas.
It is the exchange student's responsibility to find accommodation in the host country. If your placement provider doesn’t provide you with accommodation in one of its student residences, then be sure to make your own arrangements before you arrive.
Book a hostel or hotel for the first week, which will give you sufficient time to find an apartment or a private room for let. Then make enquiries with the host university's Housing Department, or ask the International Coordinator for a list of reputable agencies that can assist you with finding accommodation.
Do not use lettings agencies that require any type of fee before they provide you with a list of local lettings or find you accommodation.
Before departure, spend as much time and effort as possible learning your host's language and start as soon as you can.
UAL's Language Centre offers evening courses in several foreign languages which you could take before you go.
Passport and visa
It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that their travel documents, including passport and visa, are in order and comply with immigration requirements of the host country.
Make sure you have a passport valid for the entirety of your planned time on exchange plus an additional six months after your planned return.
If you hold a passport outside the European Union, you should check with your Embassy for student study visa requirements.
Some countries (eg. USA) require students to complete a declaration of finances, which is verified before they are able to get their visa. For example, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York requires all exchange applicants to demonstrate they have at least $13,000 available to finance their stay for one semester for visa purposes.
Experiencing a new culture
When you move to a new place, you're bound to face a lot of changes and challenges. At the start of your Erasmus placement, the language might pose problems and it is frustrating when you cannot express yourself.
Please give yourself a few weeks to get adjusted to the new culture and language. This transition can be exciting and stimulating, but it can also be overwhelming.
These feelings will pass - below are some tips to make sure your Erasmus placement is the exciting adventure it should be!
Participate actively in your classes
Even though it may be very daunting at first, make sure you participate actively in your classes. Keep up with all homework and reading, and regularly meet with tutors to discuss any problems that arise or questions you may have.
Make sure that you know to what extent your attendance will affect your final mark. If it is an important factor in that mark, make sure the lecturer knows who you are and that you are present.
Get involved in university life
Try to get involved with the social aspects of university life while you are on your Erasmus placement. Be friendly and try to make friends with non-Erasmus local students. They will be able to give you the best survival tips and you will probably develop lifelong friendships!
Keep a blog
During your exchange, you are exploring the many aspects of cultural influence that your placement offers you, both to broaden your research both in practical terms and in relation to critical and professional contexts. The journey of your exploration can be regularly recorded and reflected upon in written and visual formats on your blog.
On some courses, keeping a blog is a requirement. In these cases, the blog will form part of the assessment evidence once you have finished the exchange, accompanied by a 500 to 700 word evaluation of your Erasmus Exchange.
Talk to the designated academic for your course (eg. your Course Leader) about it to find out what you might need to do. Keeping a blog is a requirement for most Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon courses and is recommended at both the London College of Fashion School of Management and Science and at Central Saint Martins.
Your blog site address should be given to your tutor and course peers to provide contact and communication whilst on your exchange.
Check the Annex in the Handbook for outgoing students for more information on documenting your learning and experience using a blog. You can also look at the UAL blogs archive.
If you are already studying at UAL and want information about opportunities to study or do a work placement abroad, contact your UAL Course Leader or find the best contact for your query.
You can download the Handbook and check your timeline summary.