Being abroad is expensive depending on where you’re studying. London is definitely one of the most expensive cities in Europe, especially when considering that the exchange rate from dollars to pounds doesn’t really work in my favor. One of my biggest fears when I moved to London was how costly the city was. It’s something that basically anyone who has ever visited London tells you.
What made me even more stressed was that I wasn’t going to be able to work while studying here due to the fact that I had a short-term student visa. Based on my own experience along with discussion with other study abroad students, you eventually hit a certain point where you realize that you’re quickly watching your funds deplete. Your stomach drops along with the numbers of your bank account.
This is often difficult for me to handle because every time I spend money, I feel a sense of guilt. I’m not working so I’m no longer contributing to the funds I’m using. This was even a problem when I was buying food to cook despite being a human being which needs food to survive. It’s similar to the guilt of having experiences at your age that your parents could have never imagined. I can’t constantly feel sorry for where I am because then I’ll never enjoy it.
In regards to actually saving money, one of the benefits of living in a major city with numerous universities and colleges is the student discount. A student can usually receive at least a 10% discount in most places, which may not seem like much, but is extremely beneficial in the long run. Carrying my student ID is also useful if I travel outside of London as the student discount can also be applied to tourist sites throughout Europe.
Also, cooking at home is another tactic to save money. Most of my flatmates and I cook throughout the week because eating out in London can be really expensive. Yeah, I’ve burned a few things here and there and someone in my building may have set the fire alarm off while cooking, but it’s worth it in the long run. I’ve personally learned that I can always “make-do” with what I have because I don’t have a lot of cooking utensils here in the UK. For instance, my flat doesn’t have a strainer, so we all usually put the lid back on the pot and tilt it into the sink to drain the liquid. At one point when I was doing this, I accidentally dropped the pasta into the sink. I had to drag myself out of my own disappointment and shame to make more.
In summation, Europe is expensive, but there are definitely ways to cope with this. My method is always dealing with whatever I’ve been given and making the most of it. This includes ignoring the guilt that often bubbles up inside me and using the tools and support that are available to me. Sometimes pasta may fall into the sink, but we can always figure out what to do from there.