My year abroad: The one with the checklist — 15 things to prepare

Posted on: 20 February 2020 by Emily Holtom in 2020 posts

Erasmus students at Mont Saint Michel

There’s a whole lot that needs doing before you go off to live in a foreign country, whatever your pathway. Emily Holtom provides a neat little(ish) list for you to tick off.


You usually need at least 6 months left on your passport before you travel, but I would recommend having this plus the number of months that you intend to stay.

Apply for a student visa

This one only really applies if you’re travelling outside the EU, although do double check.

Sort out travel insurance

The University of Liverpool does have their own insurance, but there are plenty out there that you can get.

Double check your EHIC card

Make sure to renew/apply for your European Health Insurance card. You’ll need it for things like doctors’ visits abroad, as well as to validate your travel insurance.

Make photocopies of everything

Especially the important things such as your passport, birth certificate and EHIC card, but also thing like your Learning Agreement. I’d strongly advise you to make 2 copies of everything: leave one copy with someone at home, and take the second copy with you.

Decide on accommodation

Some universities do provide their own accommodation for students, but others may need you to sort some for yourself. Again, you should find out about this from your host university. If you have decided to work or teach, the likelihood is that you will have to find your own accommodation. Flat shares are normally a good way to go.

Student Finance

Make sure that when you re-apply for student finance, you let them know that you will be abroad for the coming year. This will ensure that your university fees for Liverpool are reduced for the year, and you should also get a slightly higher maintenance loan.

Erasmus Grant

This one only applies to students going to study as part of the Erasmus programme. You should be able to apply for the Erasmus grant through Mobility Online – believe me, this extra bit of money will be invaluable for your year abroad and you do not want to miss out.

Select modules

The number of modules you’ll have to pick will depend on your country and university, but you will be told all about this in communications from your chosen uni. Remember, these choices aren’t set in stone, so you should be able to change them if needs be when you arrive at your host uni, just like at Liverpool.

Book flight(s) and/or train(s)

Especially for those students working and teaching outside of the big cities, there may be multiple legs to the journey, so double check your route.

Get a decent suitcase for said flights

You’ll probably be using this/these cases quite a bit, so make sure she’s sturdy!

Get your travel money

Whilst you may be intending to open up a bank account in your new country, it’s definitely worth getting some cash ready for when you arrive. Alternatively, Sainsbury’s offer a Cash Passport, which is essentially a bank card that you can load up with your travel money (rather than carrying hundreds in cash). Monzo works similarly, connecting to your own bank account at home and giving you the best exchange rate when you’re over there.

Research phone and bank related things

It’s always good to go with a rough knowledge of some potential routes with regards to new phone sims and bank accounts for your new country. And make sure you have the correct documents to be able to open these things in the first place!

Keep Mobility Online up to date!

This is essential to ensure that you don’t get yourself in a muddle in the run up to your departure. 

Apply for any Buddy schemes

Most universities will have a buddy scheme set in place for incoming Erasmus students, which is perfect as a way to quickly get to know someone who can show you around.

Remember, this list is not completely exhaustive. It is up to you to find out if there are other bits and pieces that your university or employer needs.

DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. Yes, you’re moving to a new country but if you take it one step at a time your life will be made much easier. The Year-Abroad team are always there if you have any concerns or questions

Discover more

Read parts one and two of Emily's Year Abroad blog.

Study in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool.

Learn more about studying abroad.