So you’re studying abroad. It’s an exciting opportunity to propel your career to great heights and alter the way you view the world for the better. The problem is that many students take into consideration the challenges they’ll face in their studies and nothing else. Once they’ve landed in a foreign country, they’re suddenly taken aback by the many other obligations they need to manage, the primary of them is their finances.
You don’t want to be stuck in a new place before you start planning and doing so efficiently. If you are determined to avoid financial troubles during your entire stay there, the first thing you have to do is to learn from other people’s mistakes. What have other students done wrong that cost them, and how can you avoid them?
Not Connecting With Other Foreign Students Early
Befriending other students isn’t something you should do only when you’ve arrived at your new school. It’s best to reach out to others who have studied abroad, preferably in the same country you plan on going to, so you can get as much information as possible. A lot of their experiences, money-related and otherwise, will help you achieve the right mindset and make sound decisions for your journey.
This is especially true when it comes to your biggest expenses like housing, food, and transportation. For example, if you’re aiming to study in England, ask someone who’s studied about student accommodations that suit your budget. What is the fastest route to your university? What stores or public venues did they frequent to get better deals in student-related purchases? While it’s true that you will find solutions that suit you better once you’re there, having a starting point will spare you from anxiety and regrets.
Not Having An Emergency Fund
Never underestimate what it will cost you to live and study abroad, even for just a few months. You’ll make poor decisions sometimes, or new expenses will jump at you when you least expect them. Having an emergency fund for these purposes will save you from compromising your established budget. This way, no matter what happens, you know that the money for your basic expenses is protected, and you have enough to wade through difficult times.
Not Opening A Local Bank Account
You might not mind the conversion and transfer fees for one or two transactions. However, over the period of weeks or months, you’ll begin to get irked by how much money you’re losing to the bank because of these fees.
Opening a local bank account will cut back on these and give you access to additional benefits. You’ll build a credit history, which is important if you are staying for more than a year to finish your studies. If you’re on a scholarship or a student loan that covers your living expenses, the money is almost always sent to your university. The bursar’s office will then need to transfer the amount to your bank account, and by default, they’ll go for any available local account under your name. The transfer will be quicker and less likely to encounter difficulties this way.
Not Taking Advantage of Certain Opportunities
This coincides with reaching out to other students who have studied in the country or university you’re planning to attend. Make a list of their suggestions and try them out one by one. Of course, some could already be gone or insufficient for your needs by the time you get there, so double-check online. Verifying information through your university’s website or a recent blog can help you create a strategy.
Perhaps you can make it a goal to sign up with the local library or chart the route to the nearest farmer’s market. Where do you get student discount cards, and is it possible to use digital copies of your required textbooks? Talk to a representative in the university you’re going to attend to inquire if they have certain opportunities that you can take advantage of to save money. These inquiries aren’t uncommon, and often they do have something for international students on scholarships or tight budgets.
You Can Never Be Overprepared
There is no such thing as “overprepared” in terms of finances when you’re studying abroad. It takes a lot of time and effort to budget right, set up an emergency fund, and make well-informed choices that will let you save money. The good news is that it literally pays off when you can focus on your studies because you know where you’ll get the money for your next rent and utilities bill.