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There’s a lot to think about if you’re about to become an international student and spend time studying abroad. You have to plan classes, plane tickets, and so much more.
However, the planning doesn’t stop when you are settled into your new home. As you go through your semester abroad you need to be able to budget your money wisely so you can get as much out of your stay as possible.
Being on a budget is never easy. It especially isn’t easy if you are a young student, itching to spend your whole time exploring a new country. But just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your overseas semester to the fullest.
With these tips, you will be able to balance life so you don’t go over budget.
How To Get the Most Out of Your Budget as an International Student
Don’t Miss Orientation
The first thing you should do before starting your semester abroad is to attend your university’s orientation day. It might seem boring, and it’s usually a rite of passage to blow it off, but “O-week” can actually provide you with some extremely useful information about your surroundings.
Remember, this isn’t like orientation at a local college – you are in an entirely new place, and it can be incredibly useful to learn information like the best places to get a good, cheap lunch, how / when the local buses run, and the best social events.
You will probably also be told about the resources your university offers, like tutoring services, or essay writing help, because often a university workload can make you wish there was someone to be your personal assistant!
Plan Your Budget
The best way to make sure you have enough money is to know how much you have and how much you need to spend.
Some expenses might allow you to know exactly how much you will spend on them – a monthly phone bill for example. For expenses like groceries, though, you will want to set aside a certain portion of your budget to use for this purpose.
If currency conversion is an issue, make sure you download a conversion app on your phone, and know the real cost of things before you buy them. Another thing you will want to do is to curb impulse buying. Of course, the occasional splurge isn’t going to hurt you but you will want to stick to your budget as closely as possible.
Finally, you will want to set aside a little in your budget in case of emergencies. This way, you are prepared if something happens. This could be a range of scenarios – from needing to schedule a doctor’s appointment to having a bill be a little higher than expected.
Pro tip: Make sure you have a travel card with no overseas transaction fees, and no local or overseas ATM fees. These fees can really add up when you’re making a lot of purchases, and take our a big chunk of your budget.
Get a Part-Time Job
Your best course of action is to get a part-time job. This will allow you to depend on a steady income to fund your expenses. However, by only committing to a part-time job, you will leave yourself plenty of time to study and have fun.
Luckily, there are plenty of part-time jobs available for students overseas, though you do need to make sure that you are permitted to work under the conditions of your visa. This is extremely important as a breach of your visa may mean your semeter is cut short and see you deported.
You should also check into your rights as a worker, as they probably differ at least slightly from your home country, especially since you are an international student instead of a full citizen. Most universities offer services to help you polish your resume before you look for jobs.
Most students work in hospitality, so you’ll have the most luck applying for jobs in places like cafes, bars, or retail. For instance, a company who employs a high number of students in Australia is the department store Big W (you can review this related article to find out how to apply for the Big W job application).
Look Into Alternatives
When you are looking to save money, you might also want to consider looking into cheaper alternatives to what you buy regularly. For example, buying off-brand groceries is a great way to save a few bucks and most of the time, it doesn’t force you to sacrifice quality for a lower price.
Since you’re in a new country you’ll have to put some research into this, or at least ask around at the university for the cheapest home brands that everyone buys.
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Use the Resources Available To You
As we mentioned before, most universities have services that can help you design your resume. However, they can usually offer more help than that.
If you are new to budgeting and handling your own finances, you might want to see what tips your universities gives. In some cases, your university might even offer short courses or workshops to help you learn the most effective way to handle your budget.
You may be surprised by the scope of resources your university offers – everything from onsite medical facilities, to legal clinics, so make a note of the resources you have access to. For instance, if you find yourself in an accident while overseas you may need to speak to Your Legal Friend for advice on making a claim.
When it comes to college – especially when you are studying abroad – budgeting is absolutely crucial. After all, you need to make sure you have the money to cover your needs as well as a little bit to explore and enjoy yourself.
With the proper budgeting and the support of a part-time job, though, you won’t have any trouble. However, this doesn’t mean you are on your own.
Remember, one of the best things about college is the resources available to you. Don’t be afraid to utilize those resources when you aren’t sure how to proceed.
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