Every semester, thousands of college students take the opportunity to study in a foreign country. Studying abroad can be the highlight of a student’s college career, and an invaluable educational tool. By spending time in a faraway land, students both learn about a different culture, and gain real-world experience. Unfortunately, financial problems can cause major issues for students traveling abroad. In this article, we offer several money management lessons for students planning to spend a semester abroad.
Make and Follow a Budget
Students traveling abroad are not working 9 to 5 jobs to earn spending money, so it is critical to create a budget to follow. The first step is to research the area thoroughly before leaving home. Learn about the currency exchange rate, and get a full understanding of the actual cost of living in the area in which you plan to live in your semester abroad. Plan how much you can spend each day and week, and follow this financial guideline closely. Money can go fast if you are on your own, living in a foreign country, particularly when you lack an understanding of the country’s currency. Have a plan in place to resolve any potential emergencies that may impact your finances. It is helpful to make contact with students or professors who have experience in living where you plan to visit. Look for online forums and travel blogs that offer more information about living in the study abroad location, particularly on the financial end.
Don’t Rely on a Single Payment Method
Debit cards may not work at every location. Many foreign countries are not yet able to handle modern digital currencies, so ensure you know before you go. Prior to traveling abroad, research the type of payment methods which will be accepted in the area you plan to visit. Most places will take credit cards, but debit cards might not be accessible. Typically, only chip cards with an embedded microchip are accepted. The chip encrypts information and creates a higher level of security. As a rule, it is best to not rely on just a single payment method for purchases. Traveler’s checks, credit cards, debit cards and cash could be lost or stolen. Diversifying your wallet will help you should the unexpected occur.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
While no one likes to think of emergencies, it’s important to plan for emergencies. A lost credit card or stolen money can rattle anyone. Be prepared for these situations by knowing how you can get funds from your family or loved ones. Money transfer companies will most likely be faster than a traditional wire transfer from your home country. Research ahead of time and create an account with a trusted money transfer company to simplify the process and make sure you are prepared in case of emergencies.
Take Advantage of Public Transportation
Remember you are on a budget. Cab rides and Uber fares will add up quickly. One of the drawbacks of studying abroad is the ability to get from place to place without incurring high expense. A clever way to save is to take advantage of public transportation. Many countries have excellent public transportation services that are points of civic pride. One of the most interesting and pleasurable aspects of traveling abroad for a semester is to immerse yourself in another country’s culture. There’s no better way of doing this than riding the metro with the locals.
If you want to study abroad, managing your money wisely is an important aspect of having a positive trip. When living far from home, sticking to a budget is often a learning experience that proves to be valuable in the years ahead. For many college students, a semester abroad is the first truly independent adult experience. Use your time learning, having fun, staying safe, and soaking up culture rather than making mistakes in your management of the money you have available during your stay. Managing your money carefully and learning live within a strict budget can be an important side benefit of a study abroad experience.
About the writer
Anastasia Rjevskaia is the Marketing Director at Sharemoney®, the online money transfer service of OmnexGroup, Inc., a licensed remitter. With over 25 years in the money transfer industry, Omnex and its Sharemoney service offer flexible money transfer options to over 41,000 payout locations around the world including the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, Nigeria and many others.