Moving around in Alcalá de Henares
The Madrid region offers an incredible range of transport options for all students. For 20€ you can travel anywhere in the Madrid region (not including the airport), and even to the city of Toledo which is the next region.
In Alcalá we mainly use the bus, although the city is small and can be reached on foot. There is a Cercania station (C2 and C7) which connects Alcalá to Madrid in 45 minutes, or to Guadalajarra in 40 minutes.
To get to Adolfo Suarez airport, bus 824 takes you there in about 35 minutes.
But the city centre is very small and the university is spread over a small area in the city centre. On the other hand, a college is a little further away from the city.
My free time in Cy Cergy Paris Universite
CY Cergy University is located near a large shopping centre called "les 3 Fontaines", where you can go shooping and do activities such as bowling or going to the cinema. It has just been rebuilt and is even more modern than before, with a large restaurant and fast food area.
In the city centre, next to the RER A station, there is the François Mitterand park where you can eat on the grass and rest before going back to study.
The Cerclades library, which is located just above the RER A station (without the noise that this implies), has been my favourite place to study and has a huge amount of books.
If you have more time to walk around or go out in the open air, there is the Cergy leisure centre which is a 20 !minute bus ride from the city centre. This leisure centre is amazing as it offers many activities throughout the year surrounding many connected lakes, which surround an arm of the Oise. You can swim on one of the artificial beaches and go on the big slides, do accrobranche, water skiing, archery, fishing, rafting and many other things. And, of course, a little barbecue with friends.
The main axis is a large park that starts at Cergy le haut and goes down to the leisure centre. For sportsmen it is really ideal.
A little further on, a large skating centre has recently opened and people are increasingly going to see hockey matches of the local team: the Jokers.
If you want to go out in the evening, I recommend Port-Cergy, it's a harbour on the banks of the oise where you can relax on the terrace with your friends.
During my free time in Granada, I did many different things.
I was lucky enough to stay for almost a year (11 months), so I was able to discover the region (and the country) when the weather was good (or even very good !!) but also when it was cold in winter. Yes, Granada is located very close to the Sierra Nevada mountains, at about 800m above sea level...
So I did a lot of hiking (accessible by bus or we sometimes rented a car with friends): there are great places to run and/or walk with beautiful landscapes, in summer and winter.
I was also lucky enough to arrive the year the ESN section was organising a lot of open mic in a night club. We were a whole group (the "erasmusicians") of international and Spanish people playing music ! It was really nice ! We rehearsed in parks, in a music studio, but also outside the city, at the Mirador San Miguel Alto (for me, the best viewpoint in the city where I spent a lot of time admiring, relaxing...), by the sea, etc.
I also went to the sports sessions that the university offers (tennis, football, dance, and many others), I recommend ! Because you meet local students who are not necessarily close to the international world and so you meet different people and you can learn more about the local culture :) Because my goal was really to integrate myself as much as possible in the local life !
Moving around in Stockholm
In Stockholm you mostly use the metro, which is very practical ! For students it's like 58€ per months to have access to all the metro, bus and some trains network. But if you live in the center, just walk or have a bike is enough ! There is bike line everywhere and not a lot of cars.
During my 5 months stay in Athens I could easily travel around Greece. Both with organized tour by ESN local sections and autonomously. I can say that national trasports by busses are easy and cheap for students (50% off). If you want to reach the most famous archaeological sites, such as Delphi, Olimpia and Cape Sounion you can go there with KTEL company. I also took once the train to Corinth, it is just one our trip. To reach the islands you have the Pireus port (jus 8km from the center of Athens) that takes you everywhere, and, again with 50% off if you are a student.
In Granada, there is a tram/metro and several city bus lines that allow you to get around the city. But the best way (and the way I used the most during my semester there) is to walk! You can look up to admire the architecture, stroll through the small pedestrian streets or climb the stairs of the Albaicin to reach the mirador of San Nicolas and enjoy a breathtaking view of the whole city. What I liked best was walking on "el paseo de los tristes" where the view on the Alhambra is incredible!
How to get faster to university
The transport network in Caen is called Twisto.
I strongly recommend the tram and not the buses which are very slow. You can also walk or use a bike to go to the university but the climb is quite steep ...
When I arrived in the Netherland I knew I had to bike to go to university. But I didn't realise how important was biking! The bikers are always going first, they don't stop for pedestrians for example.
They are rules to follow though, no phones on the bike and you can't be found drunk biking, you can get fined. I didn't know about those rules in my home country.
But, what's good to know is that the university organizes biking courses for the new students at the beginning of the semester
I have spent a year and a half in Dijon, and I feel quite satisfied with the public transport ! The network Divia (the society in charge of the transport in Dijon) offers a lot of possibilities (tramway, bus) that works, places that are actually clean and safe (never had an issue in it) and that is also accessible for young people, with not-so-high prices (many choices for passes - hourly/monthly/daily/groups etc.) Well, the app isn't the best one on the store with soooooo many bugs, but that's quite it !
Moving around in Sheffield
Sheffield is quite a small city, I haven't used a lot of transports to move around except my own feet ! However, there is a tramway that goes in the center and near the University of Sheffield, which is useful sometimes.
The bicycle, the best way to move around
There are numerous bike stations throughout the city, allowing you to get around day and night for only 30 euros per year.
Better than the bus which doesn't run regularly, the bike will also allow you to do a bit of sport :)
How much living in the Netherlands costs and how to save some money
If you’re planning to go on exchange in the Netherlands here are a few things you need to know regarding your finances: - accommodation costs on average between 500 to 600€ per month - since life is pretty expensive you might need around 1000€ per month considering rent, food and leisure activities - public transports, in Rotterdam, cost a fortune if you don’t have a personal OV chipkaart (which I’d advise you to get, to have discounts also on NS trains to travel across the country). To get one you need a Dutch bank account, which is going to make life a lot easier once you are in the Netherlands since some place (including supermarkets like Albert Heijn) do not accept Visa or Mastercards but only Maestro cards. If you get a Dutch bank account you can easily pay online through iDeal, widely spread and secure online payment method in the Netherlands. - to visit museums and save money buy a Museum Kaart as soon as you arrive! It costs 64,90€, is valid for one year since the first use and with it you can visit more than 400 museums, art exhibitions and historical places across the country (even the most famous ones like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Anne Frank house). Average cost to visit a museum (without the card): 10 to 15€.
How to get around the city
The city of Nice is rather small and the best way to go around it is either by foot or by bike. There are two trams that go rather quickly wherever you need to go and a few buses. Be careful though, the night buses start going around 22h and go only until 1h in the morning.
Don’t miss financial benefits for students and young people
Living in France as a student has turned out to be much cheaper than expected. In fact, students and young people in France are generally entitled to various financial aids.
Although the bureaucracy is long and frustrating, the results are very satisfying.
If, like me, you choose to opt for a university residence, when you sign the contract and pay the monthly fees, you will be given a sheet with the details to communicate when undertaking the procedures for APL (rent aid). If you rent a flat, do not hesitate to ask the landlord if the flat is eligible for APL. First of all, you will have to register on the CAF website, wait to receive your 'allocataire' number and password by post and then proceed to the 'aide au logement' application on the website.
You should also take out a housing insurance policy including student liability via the website assurances-etudiants.com. Thanks to this advantageous formula, I paid only 27 euros for a year, although I only needed it for a few months.
Then, arrange health insurance for foreign students via the etudiant-etranger.ameli.fr website. With this registration you can access various health services for free. In fact, during the pandemic, I was able to take antigenic tests for free.
Finally, get a free, rechargeable transport card that will allow you, if you are under 26, to travel for 24 hours in the surrounding areas for 2 euros, being able to go as far as Marseilles for example.
Living expenses in Madrid
Living in Madrid is not that pricey, but you have to be careful to control your budget. The most expensive thing in Madrid is probably the rent. In fact, the average price for a room in the city centre is between 400-600 euros. Personally, I paid 490 without bills, and about 520 with bills. In the peripheral areas of Madrid you can also find accommodation from 300 to 400 euros, but obviously there will be fewer facilities than in the centre. The monthly transport card is only 20 euros for those under 26 years old (Abono Joven) and you can take all metro, buses and trains throughout the metropolitan region of Madrid. If you are over 26 years old, the price of the monthly card starts at 54.60€ and increases depending on how many zones you add to your purchase. However, if you live with or near your friends, you can share an Uber or Cabify at very affordable prices.
Eating and drinking out in Madrid is probably the most convenient thing. Tapas and cerveza are an almost daily appointment for Spaniards. For example, a place to enjoy bocadillos and cerveza at student prices is 100 Montaditos, which on some days has an 'everything for 1€' promotion. For my monthly shopping I spend around 100€, trying to go to cheaper supermarkets such as Lidl, Dia and Mercadona. Going out in Madrid can be surprising. In fact, there are many clubs with free entry especially for Erasmus students and more chic discos, where entry is around 15€.