Studying abroad is a huge commitment and a lot goes into it. For most people including myself, it is unbelievable experience that actually changes you. I believe it to be an essential experience for any student to have. Of course there will be challenges as with any other major change in life but it is those challenges that we learn the most from.
For a lot of students studying abroad, the biggest challenge is adapting to the new culture or overcoming homesickness. I didn’t really have any issues with either of these but that’s not to say my experience wasn’t entirely flawless. I faced many minor challenges throughout my trip but I think my biggest challenge came in the form of budgeting.
Prior to my departure I did not do a lot of budgeting with my parents. We had no plan other than I was to use up all of my own money and once it was gone my parents would start depositing regular payments into my account. We did no estimations or calculations as to how long my money would last or how much and how often I would need money from them. Of course there are always unpredictable costs and it is nearly impossible to accurately estimate weekly expenditures especially in an unknown city with different currencies, but I didn’t even try to figure it out.
When I got to Sydney I quickly found out that it was much more expensive than Pittsburgh. I had some money saved up from my Summer job so I didn’t think to start planning out a budget based on what I spent in my first few days. I ran out of my own money within a few weeks and found myself calling my parents for money much earlier than I would’ve liked to.
From that point on I found myself running out of money at inconvenient times for my parents. It was tough to balance between trying to enjoy my time as much as possible while also trying to take pressure off of my parents. Every time I would make a large purchase such as a plane ticket I would have to ration my daily spending as much as I could. My reactive system caused me to miss out on several opportunities because I simply could not afford them.
I have never been a planner in any aspect. I am constantly taking things as they come and playing it by ear. This trip has taught me that this definitely isn’t the right way to approach things. I hope to be much better at planning ahead for my future endeavors. Even just a little bit of planning would have meant all the world in preventing this issue.
For anyone planning on studying abroad I highly recommend sitting down with your parents and developing a comprehensive budgeting plan that accounts for uncertainties. Money is the last thing you want to be worrying about while you try to adapt to a new culture and have the time of your life at the same time.