Financing a trip can be very difficult. For me, I thought it was impossible. I work full time while paying for school, trying to pay my bills, as well as attempting to have a social life. If you’re feeling a similar way, I’m here to tell you, it’s not impossible. There are quite a few ways to make things easier and more affordable.
The first step I took was looking at all of my finances and what my options were. Some questions that came to my mind were, do I need a second job? Are there any scholarships available? Do I need to cut out certain things in my life? Well, as I’ve already mentioned, I already work full time and am in school, so a second job was out of the question. As I began to research more, I found out that IBS offers multiple scholarship opportunities to help you pay for the trip. Once I learned about this, I quickly applied for the one that I felt like I could manage and received a scholarship! However, scholarships don’t typically pay for everything and this case was no different. I still had to think of how I was going to pay for the rest of my trip.
What do you need?
Do I need to cut out certain things in my life in order to afford this? Everyone is going to answer this a little differently depending on how what your financials look like. For me, I did. I am a coffeeholic and love to eat out with my friends. I decided to cut down on how much coffee I bought before going into work and how often I ate out. Surprisingly enough, this helped a ton. Coffee is about 4 dollars a cup, and I was buying at least a cup a day. That’s 20 dollars a week minimum. Then going out was at least another $10/day, minimum. That’s already about 100 dollars a week, which comes out to about $300-$400 a month! I started taking that money and put it into a savings account. If you have a savings account that accrues interest, I would highly recommend it. That’s free money!
Okay so now I’ve applied for a scholarship and have started saving around $300 dollars a month. What else can I do? Can I put anything else into a savings account that can accrue? The answer was yes. I went through all of my bills and looked at what I had left after paying everything to see if I could still keep some and have a social life while still putting some money in my savings account. I was able to put another 300 dollars from my paychecks bi-weekly and put it into my savings. Now, I know not everyone makes the same amount but honestly, any amount will work. Even if you were putting 10 dollars every paycheck into a savings account. If you start saving early enough, you will be able to save a lot.
Should you use a credit card?
Lastly, credit cards. No one likes to rack up their credit card but if you do what I mentioned previously, you shouldn’t have a whole lot to put on it. If you put your remaining balance on a credit card, you can use a payment plan to slowly pay the rest of it off (but hopefully you won’t have to do this step). I did use a credit card when I was abroad and am slowly paying off what I spent. Make sure you are planning for food and souvenirs. I also learned it’s easier to plan how much you spend if you look up activities that you would like to do ahead of time to get an estimated cost. It may even be cheaper to purchase online ahead of time than when you arrive in person.
Having said all this, it was a lot of hard work and self-control to not buy coffee every day or eat out all the time, but it was definitely worth it. I met some incredible people on my trip, saw sights in person that I’ve only ever seen on the computer or in books, and had some unforgettable experiences.
Is it worth it?
I have always wanted to do a study abroad program, however, my undergraduate program didn’t offer it, so when I saw this opportunity, I had to take it. I had so many friends tell me it the experience was worth it, and I had to witness it for myself. Now, I’m telling you. It is worth it. I learned about so many different companies and made some contacts that I never would have had I not gone. If you are not sure if you can afford a program like this or want to invest the time, reach out, and ask for help. There are always options and the investment is definitely worth it. How often are you able to receive school credit for having a blast in another country? It’s an experience you will never forget.