Travel is not cheap and I’m almost positive that just about everyone can agree with that statement. It may seem daunting but don’t fret because anyone can be financially responsible and can also have fun.
When studying in a group, it is inevitable that you will be studying amongst those of very different economic backgrounds. So, why does this matter? It really matters in the realm of socialization. People may want to spend out of the bounds of your comfort but the one thing to remember is: you are in control of your funds and you don’t have to spend as much as someone else to have a good experience.
I personally felt a degree of alienation when learning about the financial situations of my peers. Many were comfortable and that was great, but when you’re struggling and constantly worrying about your family and finances it can feel like you are alone. So if you are reading this and undergoing financial hardship know that you are not alone and we will get through this. You will hear other students talk about how “broke” they are and then they will drop 100$ in a pub. This will make you think, if they think they’re broke then what does that make me? Just know that your situation makes you strong and is not permanent and that you don’t truly know their lifestyles and to avoid passing judgement.
After this realization I pushed past it. My parents did all they could to help, I made sure I worked extra hours before I left, and I went into the trip with the mindset that I wouldn’t let low funds inhibit my ability to have fun and that I would be generous and frugal all in one.
When we were in Dublin we had our housing paid for but were required to provide a majority of our meals. Thankfully, the program fee covered a few breakfasts and dinners. Yet it was quite obvious that if not done properly, things (especially my bank account) would be in disarray. Dublin, I love you, but you my friend are not cheap.
Below I have a list of the following things I did to cut costs:
- Rather than eat out every night I had a majority of my meals planned and bought food from the grocery store. I made sure to get enough and in bulk so I could spread it out throughout the majority of the trip with uniform meals
- I bought reusable containers so I could transport my food and not waste money on paper goods (love your planet!)
- When going out to the pub with friends I limited my spending, one to two drinks was enough for me and when I didn’t want to I just hung out with them and had some crisps (chips)
- I spent money on things that mattered, like souvenirs and things I could use again rather than constantly buying snacks and drinks that I didn’t need
- When I did go out to eat and wasn’t too hungry I got something small, sometimes I would even get something bigger and then I’d have leftovers so two meals in one
- I also coordinated with friends and we would get a big meal together and split the cost
Being frugal is understandable and there is nothing lame about being conscious of your spending, but it is important to remain courteous as well as treating yourself.
When I wanted Gelato, I got it. When I wanted coffee, I bought some. When someone exhibited awesome service or did a favor for me, I paid them a little more (worth it to be a good person). I made sure to bring back souvenirs for myself and my friends & family. The precautions I took allowed me to do this and to me was entirely worth it.
So you can still have fun, and still go out with friends! Don’t let money be the reason you stay in at night.
Happy (responsible) spending!