BUDGETING AND SPENDING MONEYFor most students, studying abroad may involve changes in lifestyle and require more financial planning. Even if you do not already budget your money in the United States, you should begin doing so to prepare for your Study Abroad program. Before departure, find out exactly what is and is not covered in the program fee. This will help you calculate how much will be needed for other purposes. Keep in mind that the cost of living varies from country to country, with currency fluctuations, and according to your personal lifestyle, so it is important to plan a budget individually. Some major expenses which you will need to account for include your round-trip flights, meals, local transportation, travel, mobile phone, books, personal items, and entertainment. Here are some helpful budget tips to get you started:
- Determine costs of daily expenses in the host currency. Refer to your program’s page on the Office International Education website and www.cashpassport.com/us/budgetcalculator.html.
- Make weekly and daily budgets and stick to them. Adjust up or down in light of initial experience upon arrival.
- Quickly learn the value of the local money in relation to the U.S. dollar.
- Be alert to discounts and use student discounts with your student ID or Gull Card. There is also an International Student ID Card (ISIC) offered by STA Travel that provides discounts on restaurants, museums, travel, etc.
- Take advantage of less expensive alternatives whenever possible. Cook meals (especially breakfast) and use student cafeterias, saving restaurants for special occasions.
- Plan entertainment and recreation around the availability of free, inexpensive and discounted events — on campus, or in the surrounding community.
- Shop in street markets or major chain supermarkets, which are less expensive than convenience stores.
- When traveling, stay in hostels or in modest bed-and breakfast accommodations as opposed to hotels that cater to tourists and business travelers.
BANK CARDS AND CREDIT CARDSPrior to departure, contact your bank to identify the international ATM networks that offer the lowest transaction fees for cash withdrawals abroad. Some large banks with international relationships offer no fees at certain ATMs. You should also inform your bank and any credit card companies of your upcoming travel plans. Give them details of your host country and any other countries that you might visit, as well as the length of time you will be out of the country. This should prevent holds from being placed on your account due to suspected theft or fraud. Make sure to note the daily maximum withdrawal limit.
CURRENCY CONVERTERThe following website provides a useful tool for converting currencies from all over the world: