I spent a semester at Leiden University, Netherlands, under the Erasmus scheme. I t was a great experience; I gained new skills, made amazing friends, and saw wonderful places.

Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your semester abroad:

OneOne. Pack well

One of the best things I did before I left was really think about what I wanted to take with me. I flew, so I only had hand luggage and a 20kg bag in the hold. Sounds loads right? Nope!


It turned out to be quite hard to pack 4 months into just two bags.

My suggestion is to make a list of the essentials before you pack so you don’t leave anything you really need behind.

But all is not lost, the postal service is great!

TwoTwo. Get to know your neighbours

Accommodation varies between cities. You may end up halls, or in private housing. But, wherever you end up get to know those around you.

I lived in a studio flat in a building made up of likewise apartments. It was great living on my own but if I hadn’t met my neighbours I think I would have been quite lonely, especially as I lived far away from the friends I made at Uni.



If you live in a building or halls there may be a group on Facebook you can join – I posted on a group like this saying knock on my door to say hi, and people did!

You should also knock on your neighbours doors, go out and say hi when you hear people talking outside your room. And, if there is a communal area, use it!

ThreeThree.  Explore

A semester abroad is a great opportunity to see and experience new places. Start by getting to know the city you live in, I find walking the best way. Arm yourself with a map and don’t be afraid of getting a 14724503_10209569534026775_7442367674849148446_nbit lost, sometimes the best places are found this way

Also, take advantage of being in Europe, there are loads of cheap connections by coach and train to various European cities. Have fun!



FourFour. Embrace new Language

Although there are many who people begin an Erasmus semester as part of a language course there are also just as many who don’t and could spend their whole time speaking their native language. Yes, this is easy, especially when a lot of people speak good English, but why not take advantage of your new location to learn a new language! Or at least a few words, it is respectful and they will always come in useful.


FiveFive. Look after yourself

You’re in a new city, there is so much to experience – A new nightlife to explore; a different dating scene. Have fun, but remember to look after yourself. No one wants to get ill, or even worse, hurt! So remember to be careful, and look after yourself..

  • Don’t drink too much if you are unsure of your way around,
  • Try to have a few good nights of sleep,
  • Eat properly, I am sure this wont be hard with a new countries cuisine to try!
  • Date responsibly
  • Most importantly – explore, get involved, socialise, and have fun!



Five Tips for… Organising a Conference

OneOne. Create a timetable

One of the best things we did in the lead up to the conference was create a to-do list and a timetable for completion. This really helped us to stay on track, and made sure we didn’t forget anything. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when organising a conference and having a well-planned schedule allowed us to stay on track making the whole process a little smoother.

Delegates at the NEBARSS conference

TwoTwo. Don’t worry if something goes wrong
No matter how organised you think you are, there will always be something you haven’t thought about. But it is Ok. Our delegates were a particularly amenable group, but really anyone will appreciate that there are little details that may go wrong (like the microphone in our case!) and that it is not the end of the world.

ThreeThree. Acquire some free pens: freebies mean everything!

Of course, they don’t, not really, but everyone appreciates a good

the NEBARSS conference pack
the NEBARSS conference pack

selection of items in their conference packs. It is also a very good way of making contacts within larger organisations and businesses, local or national. It is a good way of obtaining financial support for your conference. The earlier you start this process, the better. You are far more likely to get support if you ask in advance. Organisations often have deadlines for funding, so do your research. Some publishing companies are also really keen to hear what universities are up to. In fact, on account of this our conference report is being printed in ‘Past’, the Prehistoric Society magazine.

FourFour. Enjoy the day!

Even though there was a lot of work leading up to the day, and a lot of running around and frantic organising on the day itself, it pays off! Every one of our delegates came up to us at the end of the conference and thanked us for the day for organising it so well. This was of course so thoughtful, but well-received and valuable feedback which made it all worth it!

FiveFive. Don’t buy too many biscuits!

Incredulously, there is such a thing as too many biscuits! Don’t panic though, they are a welcome, if fleeting, addition to the office… That is until everyone blames you for tempting them.