By Stephanie Jackson on Monday May 28, 2012
Does the thought of going abroad make you a little nervous…especially about the effect studying in an expensive country like Brazil might have on your wallet? Not to worry, as someone who made it through a semester in one of the most expensive places on Earth (the United Kingdom) without going into a black hole of debt, I know that everyone else can do it too! Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you get started.
Plan ahead! This is a piece of advice you’ll often hear in the study abroad world, and it couldn’t be truer here. To start, get an idea of how much money you’ll need to save—based on the length of your stay abroad, what’s included in your program, your average living costs in the U.S., and what you plan to do abroad (traveling around every weekend will obviously require more funding than staying put in your host city). Once you’ve determined that number, work as hard as you can to save that amount before you go! Whether that means taking a second job over the summer (like I did), throwing a fundraiser with your friends and family, or asking how your parents feel about loaning you some money, it’s best to get started as early as possible. You’ll find that it’s not difficult to stay motivated to keep on track by visualizing your exciting adventures to come!
Set a strict budget for yourself. While this is a good idea even when you’re not abroad, it becomes essential when traveling abroad. When I was out of the country for the first time, my initial weeks were filled with copious amounts of spending because I didn’t want to miss out on one single experience! After awhile though, I realized that my fish and chips addiction was going to destroy any chance I had of enjoying myself later in the semester. I started budgeting out my weekly funds to get back on track, and was still able to do everything I really wanted to do. Which brings me to my next point…
Know your priorities. While you don’t want to be sacrificing any amazing, possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities abroad, it’s important to understand which of these are truly important to you. Maybe you’d be willing to eat ramen noodles all week long in order to spend every free weekend exploring your host country. Or maybe you would never forgive yourself, being the foodie that you are, if you didn’t have an ample budget to sample the local cuisine. Whatever your passions are, clearly knowing what they are will make it easy to pass on something that you’re only mildly interested in, but you know will set you back on your budget.
Get support. Don’t worry; it’s OK to ask for help, especially when that help will bring you toward your goal of studying abroad! It’s always a good idea to be in touch with your school’s Financial Aid and Study Abroad offices, as they may have good resources on possible scholarships or grants you may be eligible for to assist you in studying abroad. Here are a few examples:
Ask around. Don’t just take my word for it; do your own research! Talk to friends, classmates and family members who have gone abroad, and see how they were able to keep it affordable for them. Your on-campus study abroad advisors are also a wealth of information and usually have a ton of international experience under their belts, so they’re bound to have lots of helpful hints! You can even run an online search to see what others are saying. Here are two fun resources to start from:
Now that you have the tools to keep your study abroad experience within your financial reach, what are you waiting for? Get going- it’s time to start deciding on a study abroad program!
About the AuthorStephanie Jackson
Stephanie graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in History and Classical Studies, with the intention of becoming a classical archaeologist. However after her study abroad experiences in Scotland and Italy, she realized that her true passion lies more in learning about the cultures and people of the world today. After spending a few years as a travel advisor with STA Travel where she had the opportunity to travel all over the world, she received her master’s degree in International Education at the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute. During that time, she worked with SIT Study Abroad on their programs in Europe and the Middle East, and spent six months working with the Center for Global Education at their study abroad site in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She continued in the field, working with International Studies Abroad to develop their customized faculty-led programs in Latin America, before joining BridgeAbroad as the Opportunities Abroad Program Manager.
At Bridge, we want to help students reach their goals. Below are some reasons students choose to go abroad.