5 Simple Ways to Cut Costs When Being a Student Abroad
Naturally, when living in a foreign country, we are absolutely stoked about learning and seeing everything that is different and new to us. This goes far beyond the mere student experience and the university itself. I, and I am sure you are in on this with me, want to travel and explore. However, finances can thwart your plans, since most international students have limited funds available. For this very reason, we huddled together and figuratively fried our brains to come up with five practical and easy tips on how to improve your financial situation while being abroad, so that you can enjoy the experience to the fullest.
1- Record Your Monthly Expenses
Recording your monthly expenses does not only allow you to keep track of your spendings, but also allows you to identify individual elements that represent major drags on your budget.
For instance: After recording your expenses, you notice that you spend about 9USD on commuting by public transportation to go downtown 3 times a week. If you could simply reduce the number of times you are going downtown to twice a week, or by using another means of transportation, such as by bike, for at least once a week, you could save an amazing amount of money over time. By saving just 9USD per week, this would already represent 36USD per month, or even 432USD per year. An amount that will surely allow you to take a short trip. Adding up small amounts of money can eventually generate large amounts of savings, and thus valuable travel funds.
2- Saving Money By Taking Advantage of Your Student Status
Although often widely unknown, most countries; in fact, offer their students a number of special student discounts. You will be able to save quite a large amount of money by simply showing your student identification card at a variety of different restaurants, when using public transportation, or buying an entrance ticket to the museum.
Hint hint, wink wink: For students who are thinking about traveling to a variety of different countries, there are also so-called International Student Identity Cards available, which are recognized by 120 countries worldwide. Hence, by obtaining one of these cards from a licensed authority, such as certain student travel organizations or student unions, you will be able to increase your savings even more.
3- Be a Local, Not a Stranger
Similar to a chameleon who adapts to its environment, it is worth trying to follow the example of locals in your host country. Many foreign students; for example, tend to keep their eating habits from back home, refusing to truly experience the taste of local cuisine. However, apart from missing out on some of the most amazing and mouth-watering dishes, getting a taste of home and sticking with what is already familiar to you, might also turns out to be much more expensive than local dishes. So street vendors, traditional-style restaurants, or even attending local food fairs and festivals provide a sound and definitely exciting alternative.
4- Caution: Beware of the ATM
Many students abroad receive their monthly funds available to them via foreign bank transfers from their home country, and then withdraw the money from the nearest ATM machine. However, watch out!
Note that every time you use the ATM to withdraw money with your foreign bank card, you will be either charged a certain percentage of the amount you have withdrawn or a flat fee. Therefore, it is advisable to only make a single transaction once a month to cover your entire monthly expenses, in order to keep charges as low as possible. Another option would be to ask your family or guardians respectively, to send your monthly funds by other means, such as Western Union money transfer or companies similar to it, which generally tend to be significantly cheaper.
5- Identify Potential Sources of Additional Income
Many universities offer their international students part-time employment opportunities on campus, which include assistant positions in offices, learning centers, or in the library. Another option would be to apply for internships. While certainly not all of them actually do pay, you surely accumulate international work experience and skills beneficial to your résumé and professional profile.
Please note, that some scholarships or certain types of visa do not allow international students to do paid work abroad. Therefore, it might be necessary to check back with your study abroad institution and read through the terms of your visa.