Studying abroad can truly be an unforgettable experience. If you are in college, and have the opportunity to do a semester or full year abroad, you should. Learning and being immersed in a new culture can be valuable, and can teach you a lot while you’re in college. But, there is no doubt that it can be easy to spend too much money anywhere you go. While studying abroad, there are a few ways you can live on a budget. Here’s how to fully enjoy your experience, without spending your bank account at once!
Understand The Currency
When creating a budget in a foreign country, you must know the current currency you will be using, and how it adds up to your own. This means, if you’re studying abroad in Europe, you will most likely be using euros as your form of payment. So, if you’re from the United States, you will need to know what a Euro is to a U.S dollar. For example – right now, if you’re getting dinner with your friends in France and your bill comes to 30 euros, your debit card would be charged a percentage more. While it may seem like clothes, food, drinks are cheaper at first – be cautious of how the two currencies compare to each other, so you can plan accordingly to how you spend money.
Don’t Use The ATM Too Much
It’s a lot easier to just take out cash out of an ATM once in a while when abroad, instead of multiple times a week. The fees for taking out cash will eventually add up, and while you may not notice at first, you will soon realize when you do not have as much money as you thought you did. When studying abroad in Madrid, I would take out a large sum of euros and know which days after class I’d be spending money. This way, I could avoid any fees and not take out more than I need. Studying in Spain, everything from wine to food, to going out at clubs, bars etc. always was significantly cheaper than going out in a city like Boston or New York anyway, but it did help when eventually everything would add up. If you’re heading abroad for school, you may want to exchange a good amount of cash before you leave – that way you don’t have to take out cash for a little while, but also because it will help you be mindful of what you’re spending and how you can plan for the following week or next couple weeks!
Spend Money On Experience
If you’re abroad in Italy, or London, chances are you will totally want to explore more of Europe and other countries. And, you should while you have the chance to. Obviously, flying from country to country in Europe is way cheaper than flying from the United States or elsewhere. So, should you should see other countries if you can? Yes, definitely. That’s a lot of the excitement about going abroad anywhere, is getting to see places you haven’t before or always dreamt of going to. Rather than going out everyday, and realizing you’re slowly going to run out of money and can’t work abroad, plan your days out and save some money up to a trip to another country if you can. Life is too short to miss out on the places you wanted to see when you had the chance, plan a trip with your friends and you’ll want to save up even more on it.
Know The Currency Where You Travel
When living in Spain, I was able to visit a few countries and planned weekend trips (so amazing you can do that with how short flights are). And, I learned a lot about how to budget properly when leaving one country and going to another. When traveling from Madrid to London, you have to be aware of how you’re now changing from euros to pounds, and how that will add up. London seemed to be way more expensive at first, but once you learn the currency exchange – it will make total sense. This means that if I were to use my card, yet again, at a restaurant and the bill was 30 pounds, it’d really be more in U.S dollars being charged to my account. So, this is another instance where taking out cash, and spending money on an experience such as going to another country can help you not having to worry about doing math of how what something will actually amount to on your credit or debit card.
Learn To Cook
I mean, who doesn’t love going out to eat? Abroad or not, eating at a restaurant can be a fun experience, and a way to catch up with friends, family or go on a date. But, it can definitely add up. Another great way to budget while abroad is to cook – and nope, this does not mean meal prepping abroad, cause there’s no fun in that. Take the time to learn the culture and food in the country you are studying in. Head over to their local grocery store, and see what is different from where you’re from. Try new foods, look up recipes, ask people where you can buy the best produce and cheeses, make a nice dinner for yourself, or for your roommates and host family – not only will this be a way to connect with one another, but you’ll be able to get a true feel of what it’s like to live in another country while studying abroad.
Enjoy The Scenery
Not everything you do has to cost money. Take time while studying abroad to fully experience all the things that may be free to you already, and what truly makes a country special. This means, visit the parks, walk around the city, seriously soak up the nature of what’s around you. You cannot fully take in a place without exploring what’s already in its environment and makes it unique – check out historical landmarks, rent a bike and ride around the city with your friends, watch some street performances – enjoy the environment you’re in, while a lot is free and won’t destroy your budget.