The opportunity to study abroad can be a formative and life-changing experience. It is a thrilling chance to further your learning whilst exploring another culture and seeing exciting things. It is an opportunity to grab with both hands and here are some ways to ensure that your hands are not tied by those purse strings.
Here is how to make the most of your studies abroad – and still see and do what you wish – simply by living an affordable lifestyle.
Do your homework
You wouldn’t write an essay without first doing some research would you? If you want to have an affordable lifestyle you need to prepare yourself to save money by researching the place you are to stay in. Look out for travel deals that can save your cash and find inexpensive accommodation, restaurants and attractions to visit.
Use your network
Friends and family may know people who live where you are going so ask around. Get information from classmates, teachers and on-site programme directors on how best to enjoy your experience abroad without draining your finances.
Make your phone a truly smart phone
Internet calls from overseas are so much cheaper than suffering horrendous mobile roaming charges or traditional phone networks international rates but this does not mean you have to be in front of your computer every time you make a call.
Service providers such as Vonage give you an adapter that can convert any phone near a broadband router into an internet phone and let you call home for much less.
Ask the experts
Speaking to the locals is a must if you are to find out the cheapest ways to do things or the best value deals. It is also a great way to start feeling really at home.
Keep on track
Set yourself realistic spending limits and stick to them. Depending on your preferences these can be detailed daily plans, a weekly budget or simply a monthly allocation.
Some prefer to have living and luxury budgets that they keep separate so that treats such as trips, meals out and purchases are kept apart from general living costs. If you are going to effectively budget an online banking account is essential to make it easy to keep a regular eye on what has been spent and on what.
Explore your accommodation options
A large proportion of your budget will go on accommodation so making sure you explore all your options here is crucial. If your university-sponsored programme offers reasonable and affordable dormitory-style housing on campus then this is likely to be your best bet.
Another avenue to explore is accommodation that caters specifically for students but is provided by other organisations than the university you will attend. If neither of these is available there may be a homestay program, an opportunity to house-share with other students or local hostels that are available at cheaper rates than renting a place on your own.
Prepare to have the time of your life
With some careful preparation, ongoing research and a little bit of self-discipline there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to live within a budget that allows you to make the most of your time studying abroad without getting the first degree from your bank manager back home.
About the author
Mat Fidge studied in Seville in Andalucía for a year in 2010, taking advantage of a VoIP service to make affordable calls when in Spain. He lived with a local family who he still regularly calls, using the Vonage VoIP phone service.