Before starting this post I just want to firstly say that going abroad is like nothing you will ever experience. The only thing I can relate it to slightly is first year of University. You want to do everything, get involved with everything, see everything and say yes to everything anyone asks you to do. That is why budgeting has been so so difficult while abroad. Before I came to the University of Maryland and started my year abroad in America I would say I was good with managing money. I never went into my overdraft and I had a job since I was 16 and did babysitting before then so I believe I understand the value of money. However, that all went out the window when I started studying abroad, I burnt through money like there was no tomorrow. Booking trips almost every weekend, going on day trips to DC and Philadelphia etc etc. I have spent more money so far on my year abroad than I think I spent in my first two years of Manchester combined. So far I have had the best year of my life and I believe that is partly due to the fact I have been able to travel so much and I have been able to say yes to everything!
So my advice to you is to save save save.
Obviously everyones financial situation is different and I don’t want to put anyone off doing a year abroad, but I would say that even after working 16 hours a week in Sainsburys PLUS overtime hours for 14 months attempting to save up for this year abroad. I wish I had saved even more money. That brunch in Manchester, that night out in second year, that new top IS NOT WORTH IT, just save every penny you have for your year abroad. Travelling and seeing the country/ continent/ city/ state where you do your year abroad is the most valuable thing I have done so far. I have learnt so much from visiting different places in the USA and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So when you are planning for your year abroad just think MONEY!! I can’t stress it enough how expensive but amazing the year abroad is. Now I don’t want you all to have a terrible first and second year and sit in every night doing nothing because you are saving for the year abroad, but if you can’t get financial aid from your parents, or you want more of a disposable income than your student loan provides then try and get that part time job, or cut out buying avocados and hummus every week from your Sainsburys shop, or don’t buy that new dress from Urban Outfitters wear something you already have or borrow something from your housemate. This year whilst you are abroad will be like no other and if you are anything like me you will want to fully immerse yourself, but unfortunately that is expensive so bring as much money as you can individually to your year abroad.
But also don’t make it so you aren’t living within your means! This post so far makes me sound like I’m living it up like Kardashian, that is not it at all. Of course it is important to save but also live like a student and travel like a student while you are studying abroad. I will now attach some tips/ websites/ hostels I have used and stayed in during my year abroad in the USA. I am located at the University of Maryland on the east coast of the USA so most of my advice is for the east coast.
(Good location, right near the city centre so you don’t need to pay for public transport to get around- also has a kitchen so you can cook which always makes things cheaper than eating out)
(Amazing hostel, the owner is hilarious and gives you free rides to the city centre, also breakfast is free, it is a cool place to meet other internationals travelling around the states)
(A lot more expensive than the other two listed above but this place is about a 10 minute walk from Times Square, it is a great place to stay the first time you visit NYC, but after that if you are planning on going back to NYC I would suggest staying downtown or midtown around Little Italy or Bowery, it is a lot cooler than uptown and the Subway is so cheap $2.75 per ride, so it is really easy to get around in NYC)
(If you are thinking about venturing into the Deep South Austin is the best place in Texas to go, it is a hip city with lots of young people. This hostel was great and in a fab location, also it offers free breakfast which is always great)
Obviously always look at airbnb to see if it compares well with the price of hostels!
Another major tip is not to fall into the trap of booking something cheap which is pretty far out of the city and then spending loads on uber. Before you go to a city always read up on the public transport to make sure it really does work out cheaper staying outside of the city centre. This goes for airports too, sometimes it might seem cheap to fly out of a particular airport but make sure there is a cheap option to get there, because sometimes to only option is an uber or a taxi and the prices can be INSANE.
Finally when I have travelled during my year abroad I have used sites such as
- Skyscanner (compares flights to see which are the cheapest
- Wanderu (compares bus and train prices to see which are the cheapest)
Buses normally work out the cheapest especially over trains in the USA. But flights are often cheap too, obviously take into account if a flight is 1 hour and a bus is 12 hours whether you would rather spend $50 more and have a whole half a day extra in your destination.
These are all of the financial tips I can think of. Don’t let money put you off doing a year abroad there are loads of cheap options of doing things and you don’t have to travel there are loads of fun things to do every weekend on campus too! But while you are in Manchester save save save because a year abroad can be very expensive, but 100% worth it!