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Studying Abroad on a Budget

Studying abroad in another country is a life-changing and fulfilling experience. What’s more amazing than traveling to foreign cities, eating delicious food, and spending every weekend making memories with your friends? The only downside to these experiences is that they almost always cost money, and traveling expenses can really add up over time. It’s also nearly impossible to get a job due to the restrictions in the student visa. After spending two semesters abroad, I’ve discovered lots of ways to enjoy your time to the fullest while managing a budget. Here are a few you can follow!

1. Cook at home!
While this may sound like an obvious way to save money, it can be difficult to pass up eating out at all the amazing restaurants that the city you choose to study in has to offer. Suffolk University Madrid, where I currently study,  provides each student living in the off-campus apartments money for grocery shopping on a reloadable debit card. While this may not be the same for students from different universities, you can save a lot of money by grocery shopping in general. Since it can be difficult to cook while traveling on the weekends,  I usually try to cook almost all my meals during the school week at home. By doing so, when visiting a new city on the weekends, I can enjoy visiting new restaurants and trying new foods from different cultures.

2. Student discounts
Even in Europe, student discounts are often accepted at theaters, museums, and even stores. Before visiting an attraction or purchasing your ticket, you can often find out online whether or not a student discount is accepted. Sometimes, with a student ID you can get free admission depending on the day or time. For a discounted price, Suffolk Madrid offers cooking classes, bike tours, hikes, movies, and other event passes. By speaking with your university, you may also be able to get discounts for specific trips or excursions of interest to you.

3. Means of transportation

Public transportation is a great way to save money abroad, as cabs or Ubers can be pretty expensive and add up overtime. However, if the city does offer Uber, it is almost always cheaper than a taxi- especially in areas that are popular with tourists. There is also an app called “Cabify” that is very similar to Uber, which is cheaper than a street cab as well. The Madrid subway is fairly clean and easy to navigate. There are monthly passes offered for around 25 U.S. dollars which allows you to use the metro for an unlimited amount of time. It’s a cheap and convenient way to see all different parts of the city, even if you choose to buy single tickets instead of the pass. Large cities, such as Paris, often have easy and clean subway systems that you can utilize to access different parts of the city without having to spend excessive amounts on cabs and Ubers. Tourist-heavy areas have information booths with English-speaking representatives that can provide you with maps, directions, and any questions you may have about the subway.

4. Exploring can be free!
While there are exhibits, museums, and attractions that cost money, there is often tons to visit free of charge! Depending on where I am planning on visiting, I usually research the city and decide which attractions are on the top of my list. From there, I can make a general plan of what the “must-sees” of that city are. Madrid, for example, has many beautiful parks and architecture to visit and admire. There are also many rooftops to visit where you can see breathtaking views of the city, especially during sunset.

If you are thinking about spending a semester (or two) abroad, remember that it doesn’t mean you have to wipe out your wallet!

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