As flights get more affordable on a daily basis and technology is now more advanced than ever before, more and more college students are choosing to expand their education and their world view by going abroad for a semester or more. With an endless number of study abroad options and more universities beginning to expand their campuses overseas, students are now more likely than ever before to invest in their global perspective and study abroad. However, Freedom Debt Relief has found that students studying abroad are also more likely to go into larger amounts of debt, and many students find that they have trouble managing their funds and money when they head out to their international destination. If you are a student studying abroad, or if you’re considering studying abroad in the future, take these tips from Freedom Debt Relief, which we’ve collected from study abroad and financial experts across the globe.
Before you go
- Know the exchange rate. One of the first considerations you should make when deciding where and when to go abroad is the currency exchange rate. If you aren’t yet set on a destination, Freedom Debt Relief recommends researching currency exchange rates, and choosing a country with an exchange rate that is favorable on your side. Picking your second-favorite choice for a destination that has a much higher value on the USD than your first choice can potentially save you thousands of dollars when traveling abroad.
- Make sure you have enough money. Before you think about heading abroad, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough cash saved up to sustain you for a semester. Sit down one day and write out every expense that you anticipate you’ll need for about two to three months. Don’t forget to include both one-time expenses (like airfare, vaccines, or any Visas that you’ll need to enter the country) as well as reoccurring expenses (like tuition, rent, food, and everything else you use on a day-to-day basis). Then, divide the amount of money that you have by three- if you can live off the final number comfortably for one month, you’re on the right track towards study abroad. If you cannot, think about saving up some more before heading out of the country.
- Think ahead and save. Think about things that you’ll need before heading abroad and save money by packing them ahead of time and bringing them along with you. Things like a heavy winter coat, cookware, and bedding might cost more to bring in a suitcase, but are likely to save you a large amount of money- especially if you’re headed out to a country like Australia that has to raise prices due to the high number of imported products for sale on the shelves. Don’t forget to coordinate with your roommates or flatmates so you don’t end up with five frying pans!
When you arrive
- Search for discounts. Freedom Debt Relief has found that the best way to save when traveling abroad is to cut down on your spending when it comes to small, everyday purchases. Ask around your college or university where the best places to shop are- students returning and locals will be able to direct you to the cheapest places to buy things like groceries and school supplies. When traveling to Europe or Australia, try checking out Aldi before committing to other supermarkets, as this brand is famous for providing bargain prices on everything from pencils to ice cream.
- Attend school-sponsored events. Even if you’re not into things like school and club sponsored socials and speeches, these events usually entice visitors with free giveaways, food, and even T-shirts. By going to these events, you’ll not only get a more authentic taste of university-life abroad- you’ll also get a free meal or souvenir to take home with you!
- Check your Visa’s rules on working abroad. Depending on the country you’re traveling to, there are varying laws related to working abroad which may prevent you from holding a part-time job during your studies. In some countries (like Scotland for example), international students are completely banned from holding even part-time positions. In other countries (like Australia), international students may hold a job, but are limited to twenty hours weekly scheduling. Read up on your Visa and see if you are allowed to hold a part-time job while you are studying abroad- and remember to look up the local minimum wage to ensure that you’re being paid fairly, as many study-abroad students have fallen victim to illegally low wages.
- Consider doing some freelancing. If you need extra money but cannot hold a job in your country of study, online freelancing can provide a perfect avenue to earn a bit more to spend on your trip. Even if your Visa forbids you from working, freelancing is allowed because the remote work is considered to be taxable in your home country. Doing some writing, programming, or graphic design will allow you to be paid remotely via an online money transfer service like PayPal. Try checking out sites like UpWork to get started- and don’t forget to save at least 30% of the money that you make for tax season when you return!
After you return
- Share your thoughts. Many universities that offer study abroad programs need mentors to assist younger students looking to head abroad on their first exchange. This is often a paid position on-campus- so when you return, ask the head of your school’s study abroad department if they are in need of advisors to assist the next upcoming class going abroad.
- Use your experience to your advantage. If you’re on the road to graduation, don’t forget to use your study abroad experience to help you gain leverage when finding a job! Studying abroad looks excellent on a resume because it shows employers that you have an international perspective, as well as a unique point of view that not many students share. Think about what you learned from your experience studying abroad, and how your experience shaped your worldview- and don’t hesitate to bring it up during future interviews!
Studying abroad can be an amazing experience- and Freedom Debt Relief knows that you don’t have to take out additional loans before you head out on an international adventure! By being smart with your money and planning far in advance, you’ll have all the fun and enrichment of studying abroad- at a fraction of the price!