I am about to wrap up my adventures and study here at the University of North Carolina! It has been an eventful and ‘full on’ couple of months here in the United States. I have enjoyed my time here and have been lucky enough to experience a number of great adventures. When it comes to the exchange experience, I am able to offer quite a lot of advice when it comes to ‘budgeting.’
I would direct this advice to folks who would be considering the exchange experience:
- You will spend more money than you set out to. This is inevitable, but not always a bad thing! Considering that Australia is so isolated and ‘far away’ from many of our continental neighbours, it is a big deal to have managed to travel so far away from home. Depending on your situation, you might not be able to afford overseas travel as readily, so once you are in the country – take advantage of all the of experiences you can and feel is reasonable. Save up your money to a figure you think is enough, then save some more. Trust me on this, you don’t want to have to say no to things and regret that you didn’t save enough.
- Establish a long term plan for your money overseas. This is annoying and takes a bit of time and calculation, but it’s extremely worthwhile. Set out a figure for each week/month that leaves you enough to stay and play in your chosen location. The first weeks and months you will probably spend a bit more in kitting yourself for life overseas, so bargain for that. When you begin to exceed your budget, slow down and think about whether you REALLY need that second I<3NY t-shirt.
- Plan for the trips you want to take/activities you want to do and allocate that money accordingly. Travel isn’t cheap, but it’s manageable when you know what costs to expect! Don’t be a hermit in your room the whole time you are overseas, get out there and do/see/experience everything you can. Studying effectively is important, but you could do that at home just as well – you go overseas for the experience – make sure you go out and do exactly that. ‘At the end of it all, you regret the experiences you didn’t take, instead of the ones you did.’ Moral of this story again, save money before you come over accept that it might not be a bargain, but it’ll be worth it!
- Think about the things you want to buy overseas – are they going to be worth taking home? Remember that second I<3NY shirt? It’s probably going to cost you a lot more than you expect. You will probably go over with a full suitcase and because you are so generous and excellent, you’ll buy lots of gifts for your friends and family back home. These will somehow need to fit into your suitcase along with the giant novelty beer hat you bought in Mexico. Sending things home isn’t cheap either, so just be aware that having lots of things doesn’t make you wealthy – it’ll send you broke!
The fundamental experience of overseas travel is that you just want to be reasonable. Reasonable in every way, and especially with money. If you go in prepared and with a little extra than you think you may need, you’ll be set!