By: Sabrina Bene
Before going on exchange it is essential to set out a budget that will work for you. Only you will be able to determine the amount of money you need, to study in your host country. It is important to start working on your budget early. I have included some helpful tips to get you started!
Tip 1: Ask yourself some questions
How much money will you need for travel, food, and accommodation? How much will your ideal lifestyle cost? What are your spending habits and will your habits be the same while living in your host country? Are there expenses you can do without? How much should I set aside for emergencies (damages during road trips, airbnbs, emergency costs)? How am I going to travel; by bus, train, plane, first class? These are just some of the questions that are important to consider before studying abroad.
Tip 2: Research, Research, Research
The next step in preparing your budget is to do research about your host country. But where can you begin your research? There are a variety of options that will allow you to begin assessing how much living abroad will cost you. You can get in contact with your university’s exchange club and ask previous exchange students about their experience. You can go to your host university’s website where they will sometimes have the costs of living aboard for international or exchange students. Finally, you can browse the internet and google information about your host country (cost of a typical grocery haul, going out for lunch/dinner, etc.).
Tip 3: Set Out a Mock Budget Worksheet
One of the most important tips for preparing a budget for your time abroad is to set out a worksheet where you can estimate your expenses. Below I have provided a sample budget worksheet to help plan the expenses you will have in the host country. I find it helpful to estimate your monthly expenses for each category and to multiply it by the number of months you will be away.
|Airfare||Scholarships, awards and bursaries|
|Additional medical insurance||Additional income|
|Passport and visa|
|Total expenses||Total income|
Tip 4: Have Fun!
Remember, exchange is a wonderful experience and setting up a budget for yourself only makes your transition to living abroad much simpler.
Sabrina Bene is a student in the Justice, Political Philosophy, and Law program, Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University. She studied abroad for a term at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.