Are you a student who’s considering studying abroad? If you really want to but you are hesitating because of the costs involved, remember that a little planning goes a long way. Despite the anxiety that you will experience at first because you simply don’t know what to expect, studying abroad can be very rewarding. Not only will you get to fulfil every traveller’s dream of exploring a different part of the world, but you can also gain valuable insight and knowledge along the way.
Understanding the Cost of Studying Abroad
Let’s say that you have already set your mind to studying abroad. You already have a school and a course in mind. You also did your research about what the local culture is like, and what to expect while studying in the country that you have chosen. The next thing to think about is the costs involved.
Similar to any other endeavor taken on by individuals out of their own country, you would have to shoulder your own expenses while studying abroad. The only exception is if you will study under a grant or a scholarship. Even then, not all your expenses will be shouldered by your sponsor – a percentage of your living needs will still come from your own pocket.
So what are the costs related to studying abroad that you need to prepare for? Take a look at the following list:
Since you will be studying abroad, the majority of your expenses will go towards your tuition and other course-related expenses. No matter which field of study it is that you wish to master, most of your budget will be allotted to tuition.
To make sure that this will not take a huge chunk out of your student money, why not apply for a scholarship, a grant or a similar program? These may not solve all your money woes, but if your tuition will be free, that’s already a huge load off your shoulders.
Naturally, you need to have temporary quarters while studying abroad. During the application process, check if the school where you will be enrolling offers dorm rooms or student quarters. These are usually offered at a lower rate than the commercial accommodations available in the local area.
If you cannot find a spot at the dormitory, ask other students who have been in the country where you are planning to study so that you can see what your options are.
As a student, it pays to familiarize yourself with the public transportation options available in your area so that you won’t have to spend money on car maintenance.
Food and clothing
If you must eat out, know where the locals hang out because these are where the food is cheap and delicious. When studying abroad, it does pay to pack the lightest, most casual clothes that you can bring which are weather-appropriate. Whatever else you lack, you can always hunt for at the local thrift shops.
Entertainment and other expenses
You should also learn where the local watering holes are and know when happy hour is held so that you can save on drinks. Don’t forget to use student discounts when frequenting entertainment establishments, and always be on the lookout for free events like outdoor concerts, music festivals, free shows for students, park events, etc.
Top 10 Ways to Save Money While Studying Abroad
Now that you already have an idea about which aspects of being a student you need to allot funds for, what about the ways for you to save money? When studying abroad, you would not have an unlimited pool of funds coming from your parents. In fact, your parents might put a stricter limit on you when it comes to your expenses because of the already significant tuition fee that they’re paying for your foreign education.
On your end, there are actually many things that you can do in order to save money while studying abroad, including the following:
1. Know what your local banking options are
Managing your money is the number one skill that you need to master as student abroad. The biggest challenge is the international exchange rates that you have to deal with.
Let’s say that you have an ATM account and you plan to withdraw your money from there. If you will use your US-issued ATM card to withdraw money abroad, the money is subject to local exchange rates and taxes. Not only that, but there are also international transaction fees that you have to pay. You don’t want to spend all your money dealing with all these fees, so it pays to know what your local banking options are.
Visit your US bank prior to travelling and ask them if they are working in partnership with a local bank at the country you’re visiting. There are also banks which offer clients the option to withdraw money from international ATMs at a flat rate, through programs like the Global ATM Alliance.
2. Always be updated about the on-going exchange rates
Again, being a foreign student will acclimatize you with the international exchange rates. Depending on where you’re studying, your US dollar can either be stretched out or maxed out easily. The exchange rates at airports and hotels are usually lower so that they can make a profit out of you, so make sure that you already have some local currency before travelling.
3. Take full advantage of the local public transportation options
It will be very costly for a student to maintain a car so taking local public transport is your best option for getting from point A to point B. If the city has a subway, familiarize yourself with its routes. You can also rent a bike, ride the bus or check out the other local transportation options.
4. Always use your student discounts
When riding a public bus, always flash your student ID so that you can take advantage of proper discounts. The same thing holds true when you’re going to the movie theatre, a club where you can get some drinks, diners, restaurants, and other business establishments.
5. Split costs with friends
Again, students need to be a lot budget-conscious so it pays to have friends who you can split costs with. If you’re looking for entertainment options, always go with friends so that you can divide the costs between the number of individuals present. The same thing holds true for similar expenses which can be split between a group.
6. Go online instead of using your mobile phone for speaking with people back home
Use Skype, Google hangouts or similar sites to get in touch with family and friends back home. No matter which major city it is that you are studying in, there’s bound to be easy access to Wi-Fi hotspots. Use online chat and calling systems instead of your mobile phone to get in touch with people back home, so that you would not have to pay astronomical phone bills.
7. Get a part-time job
What better way is there to save money than to look for ways to earn additional money? While you’re still a student, you can learn the skill of time management which comes very handy once you are already working. Apply for a part-time job at a local restaurant, gas station or any other establishment where you can earn money while studying. Make good use of your time to meet the locals as well.
8. Be creative in collecting souvenirs from your travels
As a student abroad, you will be invited to numerous adventures – and you’d want to have plenty of souvenirs to remember these trips by!
Instead of buying pricey, chunky souvenir items which will be merely gathering dust in a display cabinet once you get home, look for other items which can serve as a keepsake. It can be the lowest-denomination coin or billfold in the area. Small ref magnets, postcards, pieces of pebbles or even a snapshot of the airport can serve as creative souvenirs of your travelling adventures.
9. Make full use of budgeting and saving apps
You are working with a very limited budget as a student so you need all the help you can get. On your tablet computer, download apps which help you manage your money or gain access to online coupons or discount vouchers. By using these applications, the money-management side of your time studying abroad will be much easier.
10. Know where to find good bargains
Finally, ask fellow students about where you can get good bargains – for just about anything. Whether you’re looking for a cheap pair of pants for school or if you want to try out the local restaurants, the insider tips from the locals are very valuable because they are tried-and-tested.
Studying abroad is a very exhilarating adventure. By following these tips, you can save money while studying abroad, be able to live quite comfortably while enjoying your journey as a student in a foreign land.