By Ariella Nardizzi
Studying abroad has been on my radar throughout my college career, so having the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy felt like a dream come true.
On paper, studying abroad looked ideal. The program cost, which included tuition, housing, and a few free trips around Italy offered by my program, was actually less than the out-of-state tuition I was paying at school in the U.S.
However, I learned that the study-abroad experience comes with a lot more living expenses than a regular semester at one’s home university. Most students study abroad in a foreign country to have the ability to travel and explore, which means that traveling becomes an essential living expense.
How much a student travels is entirely up to the individual. I had friends who hopped on a plane every weekend, and I also knew plenty of people who spent most of their four months in the city in which they were based.
Personally, I knew I wanted to travel as much as possible. Unfortunately, plane tickets and accommodations aren’t covered by scholarships. So, as a self-sufficient student and traveler, I worked a full-time job over the summer and made sure I saved up over $5,000 to ensure that money wouldn’t come in the way of me and my jet-setting dreams.
Traveling around Europe can rack up costs quickly, especially when it’s every weekend. Before I went abroad, I created a tentative budget of how much I could spend on each trip, allocating more money to more expensive locations or longer stays. Based on this budget, I was also able to factor in spending money for groceries and food expenses, souvenirs, and museum tours or other activities around my home city.
The most efficient way for me to save money here and there actually came from traveling itself. As a money-conscious traveler, I consistently used resources such as Google Flights and Omio for the best-priced flights, trains, and buses. In fact, I took many overnight buses across Europe. Although this meant long hours on the road and a questionable night’s sleep, this was always the cheapest option and even saved me from paying for an extra night in a hotel.
Another way to cut costs when traveling abroad was to stay in hostels. Especially around Europe, hostels are a cost-efficient method and are popular among college-aged students. Not only did I save a lot of money sleeping in dorm-style rooms, but I also made some unexpected friends along the way.
Overall, studying abroad can be an expensive experience. But, if done right, there are plenty of ways to travel on a tight budget while still getting to enjoy all the sightseeing opportunities.
I traveled around Europe for four months and, with the right budget, found it extremely doable to travel every weekend. Students should expect to arrive in Europe with some money saved, and can easily make traveling a reality if they are willing to cut costs on expensive aspects such as flights and hotels.
Arsella Nardizzi is a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.