I spent the Spring of 2015 studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea. And I have to brag on myself a little bit–I studied abroad like a boss. The months of studying and planning that I did, as well as some key choices that I made, really paid off when it came time for the actual trip. So now I’d like to share some of my best study abroad trips with the world! This is part of a series.
Read Part 1 Here.
Read Part 2 Here.
Part 3: All About the Money
Many of the common concerns students have about studying abroad are financial, and for good reason. Choosing to study abroad is not a financial decision to take lightly! However, just because you aren’t rolling in dough doesn’t mean you can never make a study abroad trip work. In fact, your time as a student may be one of the few times in your life when agencies are willing to give you money to travel.
If you are thinking about studying abroad, here are some money-related tips you might want to consider.
Before you go, make a detailed budget.
Use a website like this one to help determine the average cost of living in the place you are going. Make a budget that includes the approximate costs of housing, food, transportation, school supplies and leisure activities during your time abroad. (Be sure to take exchange rates into account as well!) Add this to the cost of your plane ticket and tuition, then compare this to the amount of money you have or will have saved by the time your trip comes around. If there is a large gap between the amount you have and the amount you need, you will have to find a way to fill it. See if you can set a reasonable but specific (as in dollar amount) goal and work to reach that goal before you depart.
Remember that your student visa might not allow you to work while studying abroad.
Some students go abroad with the thought that they will be able to find part-time work while they go to school, just like they do in their home country. Unfortunately, most visas given to foreign students attending work abroad include a clause that states the holder cannot legally work during their stay abroad. This varies depending on the country you are coming from, the place you are going, and the amount of time you will spend abroad. Be sure to research the details of your visa carefully before you depart! Even if your visa does allow you to work part-time, do not count on being able to find work once you get there. Aim to have enough money saved to pay for the basics during your trip.
If possible, choose a study abroad program that will allow you to pay the same amount for tuition that you already pay at your home university.
Ask the experts at your university’s study abroad department about exchange programs that allow you to keep your tuition the same. In addition, there may be programs that allow you to apply the scholarships or other financial aid you already have to your tuition and fees abroad. These programs are more common than you may think!
Consider taking less hours while abroad in order to lessen your tuition payment and workload while studying abroad.
This may not be reasonable or possible for every student, so make sure you consider your degree plan, scholarship requirements and graduation goals carefully before dropping a course. But if it is possible for you take, for example, 12 hours instead of 15 for a semester, your semester(s) abroad may be the best time to do so.
Save as much money as you can before you go.
Before you go, try to save as much money as you can. You can work part-time, sell some of your old things, or ask your relatives for money towards your trip instead of birthday/holiday gifts. Every little bit helps.
Apply for study abroad scholarships.
Chances are, your home university has scholarships available for students going to study abroad. Some scholarships may have special requirements, while others may be “first come first serve.” This is a great way to knock down the costs of your plane ticket or housing abroad. In addition, try doing a quick Google search for study abroad scholarships. Awards given by big organizations may only give you a small chance of winning, but it can’t hurt to try! Look for broad travel scholarships as well as awards for students in your specific field of study. This list at studyabroad.com may be a good start!
What do you think of these tips? If you have studied abroad before, what are your best tips for traveling on a budget?
If you are going to study abroad soon, have fun and safe travels!