Money Management Abroad: Budgeting

The biggest factor for many students in general is money. How am I going to pay for this, how am I going to pay for that and overall, how much is it going to cost? This is especially true when you are fortunate enough to study abroad because costs skyrocket. You now have a flight, living, food, and other things to account for that are bound to pop up, especially if you have never been to that country. It causes a lot of stress and while I am not perfect with this, I’d like to think I learned a few things.

Step One: Budget before you commit. Studying abroad can be impeccably expensive. You had the round trip international flight, rent, food, traveling and that’s all before you even step foot to depart. You had application fees, international insurance and it all adds up, very quickly. Look at the estimated cost you are given and see if it is something that you can make work before clicking accept.

Step Two: Plan it out. For myself personally, I was extremely fortunate enough to receive scholarship, grants and early graduation gifts which paid for my entire study abroad trip. I applied for international ones, nursing ones and received enough to fund it. Once I knew the money would be there, I went ahead and started planning how to divide it and here is what it looks like:

Flight: $1300

Rent: $1200 (400 per month times 3)

Linen/Cooking Package: $110

Food: $600

Personal expenses (including travel): $750

Your study abroad typically pre-arranges living situations for you so that is easy to calculate out. Food is very individualistic and for me, I knew I could survive happily off of $50 each week. The packages ordered were arranged by my housing unit and saved me from bringing my own linen/cooking supplies. Personal expenses varies but I utilised this as my travel budget while here.

Step Three: The unaccounted for. My budget above looks all nice and good and let me be the first to say, none of it went to plan. There were way more costs that I didn’t calculate for and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

We flew into the Amsterdam airport. I did not even think about the cost of the train from Amsterdam to my city so that was another $25. I didn’t calculate out the rent in euros, I did it in USD so that was an extra $80 extra dollars. I didn’t calculate for foreign transaction fees because I thought my card was the right one so that is another $60. My internet was solely ethernet based and my computer doesn’t have an ethernet cord, another $80 for the conversion piece and phone bill I racked up. Finally, once I add in all the things I forgot to pack (which is a whole different story), I spent about $300 extra that I did not account for with the help of my “oops” budget.

Things are going to pop up while traveling. You often end up accruing these unexpected expenses the first day you arrive so make sure you have an “oops” budget. Traveling is all about embracing the unknown and learning about yourself. You are bound to forget something or have something pop up so ensure you have that barrier so you aren’t fretting the entire trip.


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