Studying abroad usually brings to mind moneyed undergraduates with few financial worries traveling to exotic countries. But studying while traveling abroad can provide benefits for nontraditional students who need to constantly pinch pennies as well. Whether part of a traditional undergraduate study abroad program or even while pursuing an online master degree, study abroad is culturally and academically enriching.
Take the Train
Traveling by train – especially for students who want to cover a lot of territory in Western Europe – is a really affordable travel tactic. Buying a Eurail pass before leaving the United States is cheaper than buying one when you arrive. The thing that will appeal most to money-conscious students is the fact that Eurail passes allow unlimited travel during the time they’re valid. Instead of racking up huge expenses on airline flights, students who want to cover as much distance and see as many sights as possible can save big taking the train. And because a Eurail pass allows unlimited mileage, it can function as a nice incentive to pack a huge amount of travel into a short amount of time.
Re-think Your Lodging Options
Staying in hotels can kill a travel budget quicker than almost any other expense associated with studying abroad. And if you’re trying to cover as much territory as possible by train, expensive lodging can be a deal breaker. Americans tend to be familiar with hotel and motel lodging, but European hostel options aren’t as well known. Instead of spending forty to sixty dollars a night for a hotel, students who want to save money can pursue the hostel option for twelve to twenty-five dollars a night. For American students used to privacy, sharing a large room with multiple beds may be a little intimidating initially. But you’ll quickly discover that far from being an inconvenience, hostels allow you the opportunity to meet and spend time with many foreign students whom you likely wouldn’t meet any other way.
Next to lodging, restaurant expenses are another worry for students traveling abroad. A few meals in nice restaurants can wreck a week’s worth of food budget. You can still eat in restaurants occasionally, but make it a treat rather than a routine. Everywhere you go in Western Europe will have local markets. Even the larger supermarkets will have fresh, delicious local foods to choose from. This can be a really cheap way to eat well while keeping your food costs down significantly. The best part about eating local fare is that it can add another dimension to your study abroad experience. Discovering the unique cultures you’re visiting is the point right? Discovering local food isn’t just cheap eating, it’s a way to experience a culture with your taste buds in addition to the new sights, sounds and smells. And most places you’ll visit will be famous for local breads and regional cheese specialties. A loaf of fresh bread and a nice chunk of hard cheese can make for convenient snacks and can stay fresh enough to store in your backpack for a quick meal on the train. Studying abroad doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. But the memories you’ll acquire will last a lifetime.