This is the “official” review of Leuven like Erasmus destination, so I’ll discuss about all the practical information about this city, that could be useful if you are evaluating Leuven like possible destination for your Erasmus!
When I was evaluating my Erasmus destination, the key-words were:
- life’s cost ( How much money will I need to live there? )
- student’s service ( house, student’s mess,public transport)
- student’s life
I’ll try to explain every single topic ( if you want to know other aspects of Leuven, you can write a comment and I’ll answer you as soon as possible)
In Leuven the avarage room’s price is 270-300€, you have to share kitchen and bathroom generally with 6-7 people ( I have seen house with 12 students but also with only 4 students), and there is 1 bathroom / 4-5 students. The price generally includes internet (20Gb),electricity,heating and other costs. In my opinion the average quality of the houses is lower than italian “student” house.
Obviously you can find a cheaper room if it isn’t close to the city center or Naamsestraat ( where there are many faculties ). Another trick to save some money is renting an apartment with some people, but generally it’s without forniture ( then you can go to IKEA by car to buy some stuff ). Another option is a room residence, it can be very funny option or very noise/boring option it depends on people that live there! If you have a good budget, you can rent also a little studio, with 400€ ( 20-25m^2 not very close to city center or university).
In Belgium vegetables, fruits and food italian brands are exepensive ( generally they import these foodstuffs) so if you don’t buy these imported stuff to eat ( italian pasta, italian oil,mozzarella) and you buy these in big supermarket ( Aldi, Colyrut,Delhaize) you don’t spend a lot of money to eating ( be careful I’m italian so for me this stuff seems exepensive! ).
All the parties are free entrance, and beer costs 1€ to 2€ ( Stella ), short 1€, cocktails from 4€, so night life isn’t too exepensive if you don’t go to restaurant and then you drink many many beers or other alcholics! 🙂
( Generally in Italy we pay 7-10€ for the entrance for the disco and cocktails from 5 to 10€)
Obviously this is my exeperience, so the effective cost depends on your “life style”, but I think 600€ ( average value ) is enought to live there.
You can ask to have a room in a University residence, but you have to fill the application form very early ( beginning of May for the first semester or all the year). Many students have told me that the condition are good, but there aren’t rooms enought for all the exchange students, so it’s not sure that you will receive the room! They are cheapest option, but I couldn’t have it because I have filled the application form after the deadline! The mess’meals aren’t too bad, but I prefer cooking at home, and for a normal meal ( bottle of water + one normal dish) you pay 4.5€, for me it’s too exepensive!
You will receive the bus ticket for one year ( It’s free ) and you can rent a bike to Velo (70€ for one year and the maintenance is included). I think the best and fastet way to moving in Leuven is the bike, even if the bus service are very efficent!
You have free access to KU wireless in all the university’s room and in some meeting point like Stuk cafè and Pangea
There are many student’s organizations, so every night there is at least one party or other events, so it’s very very easy meeting other students! These organizations organize also small trips in Belgium or in others close big city ( Amsterdam or Paris ). An important meeting point in Leuven is Pangea, it’s the “official” KU Leuven student organization where in its base, there is also a bar where if you are a member you can have a free coffee and tea and you can surf on KU unlimeted wireless 🙂 Also Pangea organize some multicultural events ( for instance african dinner, Belgian breakfast, movie’s evening) and trips in Belgium! If you want to meet some international students you have to drink something to “FAKBAR”–> these bars ( one for each faculty ) are scattred in the city and they are “run by students for students”!
Generally in these bars, the student’s organizations organize their party, beers is very cheap ( 1€ for stella ), but also if there isn’t a party you can meet a lot of international students! For each Erasmus student these bars are referiment point during his/her Erasmus!
I think that each Erasmus student would meet people, from all the part of the world, so the “internazionalization level” of the destination is an important aspect!
In Leuven you can find students from EVERYWHERE, there are many extra-european students that have decided to study in Leuven or they are here thanks to particular exchange program. I think the half of foreign students come from Extra-Europe! This is an important aspect because you can meet people with a many different culture and you can learn also other languages! About learning other languages, there is a group of students that organize conversation meeting where you can speak with native speaker.
( Couchsurfing Leuven Language ). Now there are many “activated” languages ( English,French,Italian,Spanish,Farsi,Japanese,Chinese,Russian)
I hope this review is useful and if you will find some mistakes, please contact me!
If you want to share your Erasmus exeperiece you can write a comment, I think sharing your exeperience is important to help future Erasmus student and to advertise this fantastic european program!
These are other articles about my Erasmus: