Studying abroad was something that I always wanted to do from a young age. I would see all of these movies with college students having the time of their life and making new friends in different countries. However, I learned pretty quick that college can be expensive. There’s so much that goes into college from a dining plan, your rent or dorm, dues from different clubs, and tuition. These things aren’t just exclusive to UGA, every college has these expenses because it is a great way to prepare you for the real world, where you have to pay these things with huge consequences if you don’t and no grace period. That being said, I work at least 20 hours a week to contribute to my education here, which yes, can be stressful. So when I initially saw the estimated cost for the study abroad I wanted to do, my eyes almost came out of my head! The only reason I could afford going to the best school in the nation was my many scholarships and financial aid that I had received. For some people, that initial number might scare you away completely, but let me tell you… don’t let it!! UGA wants for you so badly to experience a UGA study abroad program, so much so that they have so many scholarships just for study abroad programs. Also, if you look past the initial number, and look to see what it includes, let me tell you it’s a steal! The experience alone is something you can’t put a price on, but there are so many agencies and companies apart from UGA that come together and do their part in giving you the best experience ever abroad! Honestly, apart from the cost you have to pay UGA, you really don’t have to pay too much, and almost everything else are just optional things. There are also pre-departure meetings leading up to your program, and they will let you know in the very beginning a pretty accurate estimate of the extra spending money you might want to bring. The extra spending money is totally optional, I know people who spent as little as $50 during the maymester, and I know people who spent as much as $700, and both people were perfectly content. Some extras I brought money for were souvenirs, snacks, drinks, tips, and admission tickets for local attractions.
Because they let you know pretty early in advance how much the program is, and how much extra spending money you’ll need, you have an advantage in getting a jump start in saving some money. I picked up a bunch of extra shifts at my job, and would save at least 50% of everything I made to put towards my study abroad program, it’s smart to set a certain amount of money to save or set aside from each paycheck. Another way I made some extra money was to donate plasma. I know that needles aren’t everybody’s best friend, but I will say that I was deathly afraid of doing it, but now I go twice a week. It’s a great way to make a difference, and to earn money at the same time! Also, there are websites available that will pay you money to fill out surveys and review products. You can do all of this from your bed on your computer, so it’s great for people with jam-packed schedules! All of these ways are great to contribute, but the biggest help to me financially on my study abroad was the Office of Global Engagement (OGE). I applied for as many scholarships on the UGA study away page as possible. Even though it seems like hefty work, you’re not going to want to fly through these or pass them by! I saved SO much money thanks to these scholarships, it is super easy to apply to them and they are so worth putting in the extra work to make sure you have the best application! If it wasn’t for the Office of Global Engagement, there is a high chance that I wouldn’t have been able to go on my study abroad. I would have missed out on the best experience of my life, and I wouldn’t have met some of my very best friends today! If you don’t get anything out of this blog post, listen to me when I say, don’t let money be the reason that you don’t do a study abroad program. Not when UGA provides so many resources to students who otherwise wouldn’t afford the opportunity to go. I am so thankful to CAES for putting this trip together, the OGE for making it possible for me to go, and UGA for being the best school in the nation! Go dawgs!