February 22, 2012

Secrets to Saving Money While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is an opportunity to experience a new culture, gain new experiences and improve your education in unfamiliar surroundings. It can also be a very expensive proposition: international students often pay high tuition fees, to say nothing of living and travel expenses. Fortunately, a few simple tips can help you reduce some of the expenses you'll face as a student overseas.

Make a Budget and Stick to It

Although it seems obvious, failure to make a budget for each month abroad is the most serious mistake most students make. Make note of tuition fees, rent, flights and other expenses, then calculate how much money you'll need per month to pay for these. Don't forget to add some extra funds for emergencies.

Talk to the Experts
Making a budget can be a challenge, simply because it can be hard to estimate how much things will cost in an unfamiliar country. To combat this problem, take some time before you leave to speak to other students who have travelled to the university you'll be attending. If you can't find any locally, try online. Use their experiences to fill in the gaps in your knowledge of your destination. Ask for additional information such as advice on inexpensive restaurants or transportation.

Watch Exchange Rates
Because international currency exchange rates fluctuate, your budget may go up or down as your host country's currency strengthens or weakens. Try to change money only when the exchange rate is in your favour. Avoid using airport money changers, which typically offer poor exchange rates. Familiarise yourself with cashpoint fees if you intend to use them to access your home bank account. One of your best options, if you're going to be abroad for long, will be to open a local bank account. Make sure you know what documents and identification will be required.

Ask Your University
Most educational institutions will have some kind of office for international students. Check with this office, both at your destination and at your home institution if you're a current student. These offices may be able to recommend inexpensive housing and transport. They may even be able to help you locate subsidies or scholarships. The key to saving money while studying abroad is being informed; the more information you can gather, the better prepared you'll be for your journey.

This is a guest post by Susanna Cha writing on behalf of Pearson PTE English test, approved for a tier 4 student visa.

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