Whether it’s to fulfill a language requirement, to embrace a foreign culture or merely to escape boredom, there are plenty of reasons to study abroad. Traveling out of the country will help you grow and create positive, lifelong memories.
With all these good things, however, there is one glaring downside of studying abroad: spending money. Spending lots of money. From the flights to the housing to daily transportation and food, you could easily blow thousands of pounds in one semester.
Luckily, there are ways to cut costs. Check out these ways to save while planning your trip:
Choose an Economical Location
The place to which you travel will have a big impact on your spending. A semester in Ecuador will cost much less than a semester in Spain, for example. The cost of living in cities that are off the beaten path, like certain areas of South America, Central America and Asia, will be significantly lower than most in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Yes, countries that are developing and require fewer expenses do come with their own drawbacks, such as potential discomforts, possible crime and perhaps a lack of access to communication. But where money is concerned, they could be the better options. If you’re spending less on food and housing, your trip will be more affordable overall.
Find an Affiliated Programme
You’re going to want to have experiences like trips and tours while abroad. Choose a programme that has everything you want, but is also affiliated with your school. This is particularly important if you’re receiving scholarships from your home university because, when you sign up for an affiliated program, you’re often only charged tuition to your school (scholarships included), rather than being charged full-blown programme tuition. And we all know tuition can be pricey.
If your school doesn’t offer a programme in your country of preference, have a conversation with your college’s study abroad office. Schools try to be accommodating, going that extra mile to encourage global citizenship. They may be able to connect you with something.
Undergraduate institutions are trying harder and harder to encourage global citizenship through studying abroad. In order to entice students, many universities offer scholarships to those heading out of the country. Investigate the opportunities at your school, and then expand your search outward. Study abroad programmes offer scholarships, as do businesses, clubs and other outside organizations. You could earn thousands of pounds just through scholarships!
Explore all options and perfect your resume and other necessary documents in advance. You’ll want to look organised and professional, which requires adequate preparation. That way, you’ll have a better chance of winning those scholarships.
Consider Daily Spending
If you currently live on a college campus, you probably have little experience with grocery shopping, paying rent and living independently in general. When abroad, even if living with a host family, you will be responsible for your spending in an entirely new way: planning some (or all) meals, getting around town, travelling, etc.
When it comes to your daily expenditures, think practically. Buy in bulk if you’re preparing meals. Use a refillable water bottle. Take a bus instead of the train or buy a bike rather than paying for cab rides. Trimming your spending in these small-scale ways will add up during your stay.
Create a Budget
Assuming again that you have minimal experience with finances, creating a budget might be new for you. Studying abroad is the perfect place to begin practicing budget-making skills. If you need help, look to helpful budgeting and personal finance apps, for assistance.
Think about the amount of money you have, the little things you’ll need and the big things you’ll want. You should be realistic, of course. You’re going to have to spend some money while abroad. At the same time, running out of funding when you’re thousands of miles from home? That wouldn’t be fun.
Doing these things will ensure that your study abroad experience is not only memorable and enjoyable – but affordable as well.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer, blogger, and aspiring world traveler. Sarah is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site on which she shares advice for young professionals navigating college and the work world. For more on all things career – with occasional travel musings – follow her @SarahLandrum