Do you dream about channeling Donna Sheridan’s trip around Europe straight from Mamma Mia? Or maybe you want to follow Eat, Pray, Love ambition of enjoying pizza in Milan? What about a stroll Paris at night in hopes of going back in time a la Midnight in Paris style? Whatever you plan for your dream study abroad experience, you can do it! The key? Good budgeting! I know sounds boring and it can feel that way, but it’s all worth it. At the end of the day, if the Avengers can figure out how to go back in time, you can master budgeting.
Now, close your eyes and transfer yourself to sunny Spain where we meet our student!
College: University of Murcia, Spain (on Erasmus EU study abroad program)
How did you plan your budget before going to Spain? What you knew you wanted to plan into your budget?
I started planning my budget right away when I found out that I got into the Erasmus program [the study abroad program for universities in the European Union] in Spain. The semester before, I started looking for job for a summer break so I could save money for all my study abroad plans. I got lucky enough that I landed an amazing job in Greece at a hotel. I wanted to travel a lot in both countries, so it was hard to manage my budget but luckily, I did it! I knew I wanted to plan in my budget: car rental, accommodation, visiting museums, food.
Did you save money ahead of study abroad where did your budget come from?
Yes, so as I mentioned I did saved money ahead of study abroad. The budget came from my work in Greece. I was an animator in a hotel back then. I loved my job, so it was a pleasure to even do that. Although, I know that finding job in a European country for summer may not be option for everyone but getting any summer job is definitely something that I would recommend.
Are you planning to work while in Spain? Why yes or no?
I’m actually looking for a job. I want to still have some extra money for some small things. Of course, I have my savings and scholarships, but I would feel safer if I worked. I feel like good place to start can be asking your university whether they offer student worker positions on-campus abroad. My university didn’t, so I am looking for a job outside, but some offer them. It can be also good idea to check with your university and see if they offer positions such as resident assistant open in their campus abroad.
How your budget planning while in Spain differs from the one you do back home on daily basis?
It has a lot of differences. At home I’m living with my parents, own a car and know every place. In Spain I’m living on my own and I want to explore a lot. It’s harder because I need to calculate things but for now it’s totally worth it. I learned how to manage my finances and it teaches me to be more organized and open minded. Moreover, it also taught me to look for affordable options, like renting a car with friends.
How much money did you spent in a week?
Tuesday October 5
I spent my whole day at home doing my homework. I didn’t have any spending really, which realistically speaking will happen to you sometimes. I do grocery shopping once every few days, so then on days I cook and do university work, I sometimes don’t spend money.
Wednesday October 6
I met with some friends and we went out to for coffee and enjoyed some time walking around the city. I also had to commute for lectures, so I bought two bus tickets to go to university. I had couple of lectures and came back to my apartment to study.
Bus tickets: €5
Thursday October 7
I went out to get couple of groceries because I had to cook myself a dinner. Afterwards I went out for a drink with my friend, and we meet some other people who are also participate in Erasmus. We had so much fun and I met many new people from across Europe.
Groceries and dinner: €15
Friday October 8
It was my 22nd birthday! For my birthday, I decided to go on road trip with friends. We rented a car as it was cheaper and the most convenient way to travel for our group. The first stop we went to: Malaga. We went out for dinner and some drinks to celebrate my birthday. I also paid for the accommodation for our trip.
Renting car (for 4 days): €50
Accommodation (for two nights): €40
Dinner and drinks: €15
Saturday October 9
We started sightseeing and walk around the city. We went to museum of Malaga and Picasso Museum as well as Picasso’s childhood home. We paid for an entrance to couple of museums. However, it’s good to check in advance as many places offer cheaper or free for students with an ID on all or chosen days. Additionally, places like churches and many open-air places don’t have admission costs.
Admissions to museums: €10
Sunday October 10
We travelled further away to Gibraltar where we mostly focused on seeing the Gibraltar National Museum and walking around. However, part of renting a car is that you not only need to take into account cost of renting car, but also fuel costs. Since there was couple of us the costs of fuel get divided.
Monday October 11
Our final stop was Sevilla where we paid for new accommodation. We also went to couple of places including Museum of popular arts and traditions, Palacio de Las Dueñas, Palacio de la Condesa de Librija. We grabbed some light lunch and went out for dinner in the evening. During the day we went sightsee and went to museums.
Accommodation (2 nights): €30
Tuesday October 12
Me and my friends spent most of the day having last walk around Sevilla. Then we went back into car and on the road getting back to Murcia. We grabbed some food on the way.
Food: € 75
Car rental: € 20
Bus tickets: €5
How does seeing this influence your spending habits?
I think that it helps me to prepare for future and any post-graduation trips I will plan. At the end of the day study abroad trips allow for travel while having access to safety net of university resources. I think I will use it to help me plan any future travel in Spain (I plan another trip for winter break) and afterwards. It also allowed me to look at reality of spending in different currency which can often be stressful. Moreover, traveling or just staying in one place abroad I would try having this type of breakdown as it can help plan your budget in general.