You can try being an exchange student to learn independence especially in handling your finances. No matter how prestigious your current university is, there are still a lot of added benefits when you give foreign universities a try even just for a few months or a semester. You won’t just learn about academics, but also interact with the locals. You will learn more about their culture and even find potential jobs. In fact, you might even consider moving in to this country.
Though being an exchange student sounds exciting, it comes with huge risks that you need to face. For instance, you have to face a new world on your own. If you have not gone away from home for a long time, this could be very challenging for you. Furthermore, you need to make lots of financial decisions since you have to spend a few months away from home. In case you will run out financial resources, you have nowhere to turn to.
However, despite the risk of being alone and being financially at stable, it is still worth the try. The good thing is that you can find ways to make the most out of your finances and even save more money even if you are residing overseas.
Try to look for local or international scholarships before leaving your home country. If you have good academic records, finding a partner university for internship is not a big problem. However, they might not be able to give you funding to cover the entire expenses throughout the program. The good news is that there are organizations that can help you out in this endeavor. They can help you by sponsoring your air ticket or providing you with a monthly allowance. If you can prove your excellence, you might even receive more scholarship opportunities.
Budget your expenses and inflate them a bit to avoid running short of money while abroad. This is important since you are not used to the prices in the said country. If you are used to cheaper products, they might not be as cheap as you would have thought them to be in the said country. However, if you have prepared a certain amount of money for each month and you stay faithful to the plan, everything will be just fine.
Try to look for local jobs if you have free time or if your academic requirements are minimal. This is a great way to earn while studying. However, you have to remember that in some countries, this is illegal. This is true especially if you were given a student visa and not a working visa. If you have cleared things out, then start applying for jobs even before leaving your country.
Don’t be carried away with overwhelming plans for adventure and fun. Yes, being an exchange student is not just about academics, but you also have to understand that you can’t afford traveling to places every now and then. If possible, target popular places that you can’t afford to miss and visit them during your free time. If the university sponsors a free cultural tour for foreign students, then make the most out of it. However, if you are invited by friends just for travel or party, learn how to say no.
Learn how to save. If you are funded by your home university for this program or if you have gotten your scholarship, then you will probably get more money than what you need to spend for. Thus, you need to learn how to save. In fact, you can send your money back to your bank account in the home country to avoid the temptation of touching your savings. If you just know where to buy cheap food or what to do to get extra jobs, then getting extra savings won’t be difficult.
Being an exchange student is indeed a wonderful opportunity. It is mainly for academic and cultural exchange. However, if it can teach you to be more financially independent, then it will be to your advantage. Once you go back home, you can be wiser in spending your money. You might even take other overseas opportunities next time and be even more confident that you can handle your finances well. You can learn a lot from being an exchange student if you take it seriously.
Featured and 1st image by Jefferson liffey (Lifey College) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2nd image by arvind grover from New York City, USA () [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons