In general, going abroad to study is a pricey ordeal for everyone except the lucky few with mythical things called “full scholarships that include airfare.” If you’re like me, that is just a dream that unfortunately did not come to fruition. So, like many others, I’ve had to become very aware of how and where I’m spending my money for two reasons: 1) I don’t want to run out of money while I’m 7,000 miles from home and, 2) budgeting wisely can actually help you have more fun in the long run. So why does such a tedious task matter? Well, I have a few very solid examples to help me explain why.
In my program, there’s quite a number of people who’ve realized at this point that they’ve been overspending in certain areas. Some frequent arcades too often, some can’t stop going to the pricey bakery, and some just have magical pockets that double as fire starters to money. No matter what the case may be, the simple truth is that foreign countries have many foreign things that make you want to spend your foreign money because everything seems to be new and exciting. However, a little while later when the foreign country and foreign goods become slightly more familiar, its magic fades and you begin to realize how much you’ve invested into something entirely normal. Sometimes that realization comes early enough that you aren’t affected by the “I have no more money” nightmare, but that isn’t always the case. So, here’s a tip: if you’re going to spend a lot, be determined to only spend on experiences rather than goods.
Chances are, before you leave to study abroad, everyone you know will ask you to bring something back for them. Also, chances are that you can’t actually afford to bring something back for everyone unless you sell everything you own including your clothes that you’re wearing. So, to prevent nakedness, just forget about that wishful thought early. Get something little for your parents and siblings, and something fun for your best friend(s). Other than that, your money should be used on experiences. From what I have personally found, as well as heard from others in my summer and fall programs, spending money that creates valuable memories is rarely looked back on as a bad idea. Even countless years down the road, those memories will remain. However, I doubt many can say that after ten years, they’ll be happy about spending $20USD on a crane game for an anime figure that has no actual value.
Get an app, keep a note of how much you spend a day, or just only take a certain amount of money with you per day. No matter how you do it, just be careful of when and where you’re spending. Remember: studying abroad gives you the chance to experience an incredible amount of things. Don’t miss out because you didn’t prepare!
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Hi all! My name is Ben Krieger, and I am a rising Junior at Miami University in Oxford, OH. I grew up in the Cleveland area as an aspiring professional football player, but clearly that is a path that I've abandoned because I'll be in Japan during my first season away from the game in fourteen years! I'm very excited to be in Tokyo for the fall, and I've been preparing to be able to at least survive in Tokyo by studying Japanese for the first time ever in Beppu, Japan this summer. I may not be great yet, but hopefully you'll watch me grow as I blog my way through the fall program!