Even though the international experience is very valuable these days, not everyone is courageous enough to study abroad. Those who have returned from a foreign exchange encourage others to participate and give advice on how to survive abroad.
Studying abroad continues to awaken mixed feelings among students. On one hand, it develops self-improvement. However, on the other hand, it’s also necessary to save a lot of money in order to enable yourself for such a departure. Luckily, there are international programs, such as Erasmus +, which allow you to spend one semester or one academic year at a university in Oslo or Barcelona.
Planning ahead should be your basic rule. - Your departure has started as soon as you come up with the idea of studying abroad. Before you decide where to go, you should compare the cost of living in particular countries – said Jonasz Chmura, who studied at Vilnius University.
Each university usually uploads a list of European academies with which it cooperates on their websites. If your financial abilities are limited, you should compare the living costs at the places in which you want to study in. Perhaps it would be better to study in a less popular city and enjoy your stay, instead of going to Zurich with a small budget (according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world).
Buy later – pay more
You should buy your plane ticket approximately two months before your flight, especially if you’re planning to go to Spain, Portugal or Italy. Flights to these destinations are more expensive during the summer, so buying a ticket at the last possible moment will cost you a lot of money.
Students agree that not only are the first weeks abroad the hardest, but also the most expensive. Even though you won’t be paying tuition while studying abroad, you will have to pay a deposit for your dorm. Moreover, you will have to pay one month in advance. - Usually the deposit fee is equal to one or two months stay. Also, you will need to buy food, sheets, towels and dishes. This means that your may spend a lot of money during the first several days of your stay – said Katarzyna Strauchmann, who was renting an apartment in La Coruña with her friends.
Luckily, students can count on scholarships. According to the instructions from the European Commission included in “Erasmus+ Programme Guide,” a scholarship is given to every student who decides to go abroad. The amount is determined by the country of destination. The highest monthly scholarship is 500 euro for those students who decide to go to Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Students who wish to go to Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and Turkey, will receive 400 euro per month. The lowest monthly scholarship is granted to students who go to Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Romania and Slovakia.
Your scholarship will allow you to cover most of your expenses. However, you should make sure that that won’t be your only source of income. - The scholarship is a minimum of what you need when living abroad. It’s a good idea to find a holiday job before leaving. It would be for the best to work abroad. This way you’ll be able to earn more money – said Jonasz. He added that extra money would allow you to take more advantages from living abroad. You can save even more money by using the services of online currency exchange offices, such as Cinkciarz.pl. If you buy 2000 euro before leaving Poland, you can save up to 400 PLN in comparison to currency exchange rates which are offered by banks (currency exchange rates as given by Cinkciarz.pl on 13.10.2016).
What better time than now?
While being in Spain, Katarzyna Strauchmann had an opportunity to visit the majority of this country, with the addition of Portugal and Morocco. - I may not have another chance like this. Working in an office wouldn’t allow me the flexibility of traveling wherever I want. When you are at a student exchange, you can allow yourself to lead a relatively easy life. Therefore, it’s best to travel as much as possible. Moreover, it would be very complicated to travel to Marrakesh from the place I live in Poland, not to mention much more expensive – she said.
When you’re in a foreign country, try to know he local culture and see the places that are less popular among tourists, but are definitely worth visiting. Traveling on your own will definitely cost you less money than going with traveling agency or an academic organization.
Apartment or dorm?
Kasia Dzikowska from Zielona Góra studies English philology. Before going to Madrid, she already knew that she would rent an apartment with other students instead of living in a dorm. This is what the students who returned from the Spanish capital city advised her to do. She shared a large room with a bathroom with one of her friends. The total monthly fee was 500 euro. If they would have decided to rent a room in a dorm, they would have had to pay approximately 800 euro per month each for the smallest possible room without a bathroom.
However, this does not mean that the prices are the same in every country. Jonasz was studying in Vilnius and he chose to live in a dorm. - It was cheaper and easier to organize online – he said.
Joanna Sosińska went to Cieplice in Czech Republic for professional training within the scope of Erasmus+. She works in one of the convalescent homes as a physiotherapist. - It wasn’t necessary for me to look for an apartment. Food and accommodation is guaranteed. I only needed money for my private expenses – she said.
Apart from the mandatory European Health Insurance Card (it can be issued rapidly by your national health insurance provider,) it’s very often required that you buy additional insurance. The most popular is the EURO26 and ISIC. Not only do they ensure you with insurance abroad, but they also confirm your student status, which automatically authorizes you to multiple discounts. - I had the ISIC in Lithuania. The annual expense is approximately 50-60 PLN. Thanks to this, I managed to save a lot of money on public transport. The discount allowed me to pay 17 litas (the Lithuanian currency which was used before implementing the euro in Lithuania, 1 litas = 1.2 PLN – author’s footnote.) If it weren’t for the discount, I would have had to pay twice as much – said Jonasz. - I also know that some of my friends who were studying in Spain had more benefits from using the EURO26. Its Spanish equivalent is Tarjeta Joven – he adds.