Paying Your Way To (and Through) Study Abroad
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Travel is out of the question for a lot of people, but none of us can escape that unshakable feeling of wanderlust we feel whenever we see someone post a picture of them in an exotic, exciting new context. For those of us still in college itching to travel, study abroad is probably the best bet—the additional challenge of academia and learning about your new context in an academic setting is incredibly appealing for some people, as well as the opportunity to quite literally live abroad for a few months. Even then, it can seem like a lofty goal, and usually for financial reasons. How will you survive once you get to your country of choice? How will you even get there? With the market ruins, millennials have discarded going away, but it's an essential part of our growth, both educational and spiritual. Don't let finances get in the way; most importantly, know they don't have to.
Here are five ways you can pay your way to and through study abroad, and start getting some wear-and-tear on your passport.
Find a program that works for you
The fact of the matter is that just because you can study abroad through your university doesn't mean that the programs offered are right for you, whether that means price-wise or academic-wise. Find a program that won't break bank, and will take you where you want to go, whether that means doing a direct exchange through a university in your country of choice or a study abroad program through another university.
Take out a loan
The government offers several loan options, and these need not be used to just pay for a normal semester—use those Stafford Loans to buy your ticket, and maybe take out a little extra to be able to live comfortably where you most likely won'y be able to get a job, especially if you don't know the language while you're away. That said, only take out what you can afford to take out and, most importantly, what you'll be able to afford to pay back upon graduation.
Scholarships, and grants are your best friends
Aside from money that you worked hard at saving before going away, there are so many options through several organizations for study away, whether destination or merit, or need-based. Do your research and cast a wide net—you never know what you might catch, and there are plenty of organizations ready to help you fulfill your study abroad dreams.
Pick a city with currency that works with your budget
Don't pick a place like, say, London if you're already strapped for cash (not unless that's your dream and you're determined to make it work). For those of us who want to study abroad but don't know where to go or what to expect (and are looking to actually have a cheaper semester) there are so many beautiful cities out there where the American Dollar is stronger than the local currency, and exchange houses will allow you to live a little bit more above your means for less. Study abroad need not break bank once you arrive.
Live like a local
Go to the local market and buy fresh food to cook at home. Make friends and make food together. Scour your new city and find the cafes locals go to, the ones that are the cheapest and, somehow, also the most rewarding to go to. You'll only be in your new city for a few months, so why waste your hard-earned money (or your loans) on grossly expensive tourist attractions? Those things are fun, but the underbelly of a city is usually more fun, more rewarding, and more financially savvy. Live like a local, and fall in love with your new city while giving your wallet some relief.