Tips and Tricks for Studying Abroad: Expenses

It’s been a while since I have continued these blog posts. My apologies.

So this is the big one, huh? Everyone is worried about cost. How expensive is it going to be? Is it even affordable? How am I going to be able to pay for this and school? Etc. etc.

Yes, studying abroad is costly. Let me get that out of the way first. I doubt you are going to come across someone in your life who has studied abroad and will tell you that it was the easiest thing they’ve ever done, and that they didn’t have to spend any money to do it. That sounds awfully unrealistic.

However, if cost is your primary reason for NOT studying abroad, well, I am here to dissuade you from your dissuasion.

You can make studying abroad affordable.

1) The plane ticket. Depending on where you are going, there really isn’t much getting around this one. It’s expensive. My ticket cost around $1500 for a round-trip to London, England. HOWEVER, I didn’t pay for it. My school did.

How?

I applied for a grant that would allow me to do research as an undergraduate while at my university in England. I will use the information (books, authors, themes, etc.) I researched in order to write my thesis in the coming years.

This was my solution, but I realize this is not something everyone can do, so, the next step would be scholarships. Keep reading!

2) The tuition and program costs. Again, this can be expensive. But do not fear!

If you live in America and receive federal aid from the government to attend university, it is very likely that this will also apply to the program you are interested in. While this did apply to my program, if you are reliant on this funding I highly suggest you talk to the organizers at your school/university to make sure this will be in play for you. If not, I know it is possible to attend study abroad programs through other universities as long as your application is accepted (though, I really don’t know much about this. Just that it is possible.)

Next: scholarships. This is something I wish I had known in advance. There are scholarships all over the place for studying abroad! Some are based on financial need, some are based on your success as a student, and some don’t even require that many qualifications, other than the fact that you’re… I don’t know… a good person and haven’t committed a capital crime. I was able to receive $3,000 worth of scholarships through my school, and this was before I even had a chance to look for scholarships in my community. Of course, the deadline had already passed for these (which is why I’m telling you about this now!)

Look around, do research, ask faculty members at your university. Scholarships are all over the place. Believe it or not, people WANT you to have these opportunities. You just have to make sure to look for them.

3) Budget? This is a key part of studying abroad, if you ask me. Before you get to your final destination, wherever that is in the world, you need to have good sense of how much money you can spend and where.

If you are attending a good study abroad program, they should have some meal costs included in the tuition/program costs. For example, we were fed three meals a day M-F and breakfast on the weekends. I knew in advance that at least 8 meals that month were going to be my responsibility, so I needed to plan for these.

*Tip: Make sure you know the exchange rate for the currency of the country you will be studying in. When I was in England, the pound to dollar rate was 1: 1.5. This meant that for every pound I was spending, it was actually costing me one dollar and fifty cents. This is ESSENTIAL to know when you are trying to budget cost! 

You also might want to budget for any of the following: gifts, clothing (seeing as how I had to buy a new wardrobe, practically), extra food/snacks, travel, amusement (seeing a play, movie, museum etc.), bus fare, text books, miscellaneous, emergency (if a visit to the hospital becomes necessary), etc. There are more that can be added to this list, I’m sure, but I can’t think of them all right now. This is also something that most programs will go over with you thoroughly before you depart!

4) Travel outside of the program. As I have said in past posts, I didn’t just stay in England when I was studying abroad. I also managed to visit Scotland, Ireland, and France while I was on that side of the ocean. Many people don’t choose to travel outside of their program due to the singular factor of expense, but let me tell you now: your plane ticket is likely the most expensive single item of the trip, so you might want to take advantage of this fact and stay a little bit longer. I knew I was not going to be over there again any time soon, so I decided to do some exploring while I had the chance. Whether this is something you think you can do or not, here are my tips for you:

a. Plan in advance. Buy your train/plane tickets, book your hostels, find useful maps and print them out. Know how you are going to get from Point A to Point B. Know everything. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. The later you wait, the more expensive tickets will get, and the less likely it will be that you will find a good hostel that isn’t completely booked.

b. When booking your hostels and travel, buy the tickets together. I’m not saying to purchase a package, I haven’t looked into those, though they may be worth a go, I don’t know. All I am saying is that you shouldn’t have, say… paid for two nights at a hostel in Paris and not have booked the train at the same time. Because, I don’t know, then you might be left with only two weeks and no way to get to Paris, no refund, and a crap ton of anxiety. And then you have to pay a sinful amount of money for a train ticket that makes you physically cringe on the inside.

Not that this happened to, uh… me… or anything. *Cough*

~~~~~

Okay, off the top of my head, this is all I have for you as far as tips on expenses. There will be more, I’m sure, in future posts about studying abroad, but they’ll come to mind when they’re no longer important. Isn’t that how most things work?

I hope this was helpful to you, and I do plan to keep adding to my Tips for Studying Abroad page even though I took a massive break from posting. Look forward to those coming to you in the near future.

Also, the last post in my Theme Park stories is coming at you tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that one too! I have a very funny story to tell you about some scaredy cats and The Tower of Terror. It’s going to be great 🙂

Mel

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