Studying abroad has a bad reputation. Anyone who goes across the world for a semester must be getting spoon fed $100 bills for breakfast from their parents. That is just not true. Last year, I studied on the European island of Malta – just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean for one semester. I was in Europe for seven months and it cost me only roughly $1,000 more than I would have spent at home in Kansas. And I, for one, was not spoon fed money from my parents. Now, if you ask me, $1,000 in seven months sounds affordable for just about anyone. I’ll tell you how I did it.
Should I study abroad?
First off, let me say that it was not an easy task to afford to study abroad. It took a lot of commitment and sacrifice during the months leading up to my abroad experience. If you expect to do the same thing following this article, just know that it takes extreme dedication. That might mean eating at home the whole summer when your friends go out for taco Tuesdays.
That might mean having an extra drink before you and your friends make the trip to the bars to tide you over during that time. Figure out whatever personal sacrifices you need to make and get started on them as soon as possible. The more you save now, the less stressful it will be to spend later when you are abroad having the best experience of your life with new international friends that will last you a lifetime.
The next thing you need to do is make yourself a GoFundMe page. This is a common fundraising practice for students studying abroad around the nation. You should not see this as a desperate move, begging for money. Your friends, your family, your former teachers, your neighbor down the street who you’ve never really had a conversation with- they all want to help you with this educational experience. They want to live vicariously through you. They want to see pictures and read your blogs.
However, put forth the effort. Do not be a spoiled beggar. Show your donors that you really appreciate their generosity. Be informative on the GoFundMe page about where you are going. Tell donors what you are studying and goals you have for the time abroad. Prove you have an interest in finding something other than international drinking buddies. (A video for the GoFundMe page is always an attention-grabber that puts a face with the request if you are the creative type).
The last tip I have (besides working, working, working your ass off at your job before you leave) is to talk to your international office at your home university. Many students don’t realize the funds that these departments have. Most offer a substantial stipend to students studying abroad to countries that have exchange agreements with them.
There are easy ways to make studying abroad much more affordable than you think. Most people assume it is not plausible for them and never even give the opportunity a second look. The truth is, studying abroad will be the least expensive chance you ever get at spending multiple months in a different continent, so take advantage of it while you still can!