Exchange on a shoe-string: helpful budgeting tips

Jo Chard
Exchange to Catholic University of Lille, France
Semester 2, 2015


Being a student and living away from home doesn’t mean you have to go hungry or without travel, you just need to know where to shop and how to travel smart! Lucky for me where I live in Lille France, it’s nice and close to a few capital cities in Europe such as, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and London, just to name a few! Buses run frequently to these cities and sitting on a bus for three hours can save quite a few euro instead of catching an expensive train! It’s all about looking for cheap travel, airlines like Ryan air have cheap direct flights that if you book early enough, you can save quite a bit of money!

Knowing how much food you’ll eat and planning your meals in advance also helps! For example, I’ve been going away most weekends so I buy food that I know won’t go off or cook extra so I have leftovers so that I can do a big cook up if needed be and eat the leftovers at a later date or buy food like eggs that is quick easy and delicious and won’t go off if I go away for a few days. Another way to save money is to share expenses food wise with some friends, a few times we have cooked a big meal and have only had to put a few euro each in to cover the cost, this also means we have leftovers which are super important when you are broke university student.

Shopping at the supermarket instead of eating every meal out while traveling can save quite a bit of money, think about it this way, five euro for a loaf of bread and peanut butter that can feed you for a few meals or one meal out in a restaurant that will cost you roughly 15 euro! While I do love eating out at restaurants, if I did it for every meal I would go broke very quickly so my advice is only do it when you need to treat yourself!

Another way to save money is to share stuff with those you live with! A few of us share pots, pans, washing liquid, most household items we share! It works out a lot better for most of us as the majority of us are only doing semester exchanges so when we pack up to leave at the end of the year, we can easily give these items away to those that are staying the whole year!

While living in Lille I’ve discovered this amazing fruit and vegetable markets that are open every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday morning. These markets mean I buy the fresh produce I need extremely cheaply and the markets also buy clothes! I bought a raincoat that I have been wearing everywhere for up where I live in the North of France so it’s really cold, I got it for 5 euro! My friend who was with me thought that the deal I was getting was so great that she bought one too! Markets are quite common in Europe so its handy to know where they are while you’re at home and traveling as you can eat a good meal plus ingredients for many more.