How to Fund Your Study Abroad Trip
by Danielle Meltz, Student Blogger
Studying abroad is more than exploring a new city and living somewhere else for a few months. It’s one big adventure that combines finding more about who you are, while helping you achieve what you want out of college. It helps you learn how to adapt to new cultures and makes you a more appealing applicant for future jobs or graduate school. Not to mention the friends that you make and the experiences you have will surpass every expectation you have going into it.
The truth of the matter is, I believe, that you can’t afford to not go.
Here are the ways I funded my study abroad experience:
Exhausting every opportunity your school has for you
If you are someone who receives financial aid, you will likely be able to transfer that money over to your study abroad program. This is a great way to make studying abroad more feasible if you chose a program that costs less than the university you are currently attending.
Universities often set aside a large amount of scholarships for people who want to study abroad. Look at your schools study abroad finance page (here’s CU’s) and talk to your financial aid office about all the possible scholarships you are eligible for. Some scholarship deadlines are more than a year before the program, so the earlier you look the better.
If you are already paying for college yourself, it can be difficult to save money to fund your study abroad experience, but it is possible. One of the biggest struggles of funding your own study abroad trip is having all of the money upfront. The trip might work out to be cheaper, but the flights, housing, and food might need to be paid before you even leave. That along with not being able to work while you’re abroad makes the trip look unfeasible to a lot of people.
This can be avoided by doing two things: knowing how much you need, and splitting up payments. Instead of taking your ‘estimated cost’ at face value, do some research into it. How much do plane tickets actually cost? Will you be traveling apart from your trip? What activities will you are doing abroad?
Then, split up the costs. If you’re planning for a trip that’s a semester away, try buying plane tickets one month, take a month off to save, pay for housing the next month, and so on. This helps you work towards smaller goals instead of the larger more intimidating number. Saving for two semesters in the span of one is difficult, but a great way to focus on it is by readjusting how you spend your paycheck or allowance. As soon as you receive it set money aside for things that are not adjustable, such as rent or tuition. Then put 50%-70% into your savings account. This forces you to be more frugal when it comes to what you spend money on, and makes you realize how much more cost efficient grocery shopping might be over eating out.
Be aware of hidden expenses
Something I realized really fast while I was abroad, but took a while to fix was using my credit card. The main idea here – avoid withdrawing money from an ATM at all costs. Withdrawing money in a foreign country can cost around 20% of what you take out.
You can avoid this by going to a bank when you get there and exchanging money, which also helps you visualize how much you’re actually spending on your trip.
Visiting a market the first day you are in a new country might use up a week’s worth of expenses. Buying things while your abroad is a great way to bring back memories with you, but you do not need little touristy trinkets or a gift for everyone you know back home. Go in with an idea of how you want to spend your money, be it experiences, food, or more travelling and you’ll be far better off half way through your program.
I’ve never met anyone who’s ever gotten back from studying abroad and said they wish they’d never done it. It gives you more experiences and stories than you could ever re-tell, as well as opening you up to a ton of new opportunities. If you don’t think studying abroad is possible, talk to an advisor and look into it before you shut the idea down. The fact that you’ve read this article shows that you’re already on the right path.
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