One of the most intimidating topics when thinking about studying abroad is money. Money can be something that makes or breaks whether someone has the opportunity to study abroad, but it does not have to be! For me, it was definitely a concern when I was applying to come to Rome, but I soon realized that there are a bunch of ways to stretch each dollar while abroad, so I am able have the best experience possible:
1) Apply for Scholarships
Before leaving for Rome, I made sure to apply for as many scholarships as I had time to fill out. While you may think that the chances are slim of receiving one, you never know! Why not try to get the free money that people are so graciously giving away in return for a nicely written essay and possibly a small project after your return.
2) Create a Budget
Now the budget that I am talking about does not have to be crazy. I am not saying to keep an excel sheet with fancy equations and computer things that I can barely understand. For my budget, I keep a notebook of weekly expenditures. While I am out and about shopping, going to restaurants or visiting museums, I mark down how much I have spent in my phone that day and then I transfer it to my notebook when I get back to the residence. Every week I add up how much I have spent, and I try to keep it under a certain number to stay within my overall budget for the trip. Sometimes I am a little over what I want to spend, but I do not fret because there are also weeks where I am substantially under my desired number, so it all evens out in the end.
3) Make Your Own Meals
I know, mom or dad isn’t here to pack our lunches for us anymore, but it is a great way to save money while abroad. In Rome, the average lunch of a sandwich, pizza or fries costs anywhere from 2.50 Euro to 3.50 Euro, so if I was eating out every weekday between my classes, I would be spending between 10 and 14 Euros per week! Also, eating dinner out every night can get really expensive. Because we have great kitchen facilities in the residence, it does not hurt to put your chef hat on with a couple of friends and try to make a delicious meal.
4) Stay in Hostels
While abroad, I knew I was going to be doing a little traveling throughout not only Italy, but Europe as a whole. One way to save money in these ventures is to stay in hostels instead of hotels. Hostels are an experience all in their own. They are not as fancy as hotels, but they offer showers, beds, Wi-Fi and many other amenities. Sometimes you will share rooms with strangers, but that is entirely your own choice. You will meet an abundance of new people from all over the world who can tell you some of the most interesting stories. For instance, last weekend when I was in Barcelona, I met a woman who I called Miss A, and she told me all about her life and her travels. She even pointed my friend and me to a couple great spots to eat or people watch.
Walking is a great way to not only burn off all the pasta you will be eating, but is it also completely free! It may take a little extra time to walk somewhere rather than taking public transportation; however, by walking you are getting to see parts of the city that you would have missed otherwise! You might not have found out about that cute café on the corner, or you might never have seen the colors of the sky slowly change as the sun sets. So go ahead, bring out those walking shoes, grab an umbrella if necessary and get moving!
Thinking about money can be difficult, but luckily, with a little effort and some creativity, there are ways to help curve the costs for studying abroad so more students are able to gain this amazing experience without breaking their wallets.