Students aren’t exactly renowned to have a lot of spare money to spend, and budgeting isn’t exactly our forte either. So naturally when I was confirmed to be living and studying in another country for four months, my first realisation was “how the hell am I affording this?!”.
Studying abroad is optional for a lot of people, but for my course it was compulsory for me to spend at least a semester abroad. It’s also an opportunity in which you don’t want to miss because you feel like you can’t afford it. Being a student in Aberdeen was expensive enough for me, and that was with a part-time job as an income – so I started to stress and panic.
If you didn’t know (sorry for those who haven’t heard me shut up about it yet), I recently spent four months living in Germany. I don’t speak German, but all my classes were taught in English so I didn’t have any issues there. However, this of course restricted any chance or opportunity at part time jobs in the country.
I thought I would write a post on the expenses in which I faced on my study abroad to give an idea for those who are curious. Before going, I had zero idea on how expensive or inexpensive it would be, so I know I would have loved to hear or read about some of the expenses others experienced. Of course, this is a very personal experience and definitely would not be the same for every country or even city.
My study abroad was in Hannover, Germany. One of my first expenses I had there was my student semester fees. I’m not entirely sure if this is a German thing or just the city I was in, but I had to pay nearly €300 for one semester. This however covered all my transport costs within the city (tram, train and bus) which was basically a necessity and I definitely travelled my money’s worth. It also paid for administrative fees etc within the university – but it was a cost I wasn’t aware of before choosing Germany. Due to the fact that my University fees are fortunately paid for me in Scotland, I didn’t have to pay for the actual course / university semester itself.
My second expense was of course my travel. You can always find affordable and cheap flights if you know where to look or search on websites such as Sky Scanner – so I definitely recommend using them! However, our host University were pretty last minute in letting us know our moving in date, so we couldn’t book our flights until less than a month before our leaving date which restricted the choice of flights. I was also flying from Aberdeen Airport to Hannover Airport – in which there are no direct flights. So I had to take two flights, with a connecting flight in London. Of course this made the flights a bit more pricey as well so I would definitely look into different options if you can!
And then there is rent. Of course you have to have somewhere to stay during your study abroad, and for me – this was student accommodation again. This is usually one of the cheapest and best ways to experience university life, and I’m glad I did it again. I was actually surprised at how cheap the rent was in Hannover for the student accommodation (approx €226 a month), whereas my rent in Aberdeen was around £560 a month! The accommodation I stayed in was also really nice and the room was even bigger than my Aberdeen accommodation which was amazing. My top tip is to search around and explore the options in your city. Your host university will also be there to ensure and help you along the way to make sure you have somewhere to stay.
In regards to general spending, I figured out quickly that I started to spend as if I was on holiday. Except I was there for four months and I definitely could not afford to keep spending away. If you are careful and budget correctly, you will be absolutely fine! Find the discount supermarkets nearby and buy your food there. Don’t buy expensive kitchenware and only buy the basics / necessities because in reality, you won’t be taking them home and they are only temporary. I realised that the first few weeks were where I spent the most money, as it was when I was exploring the city the most and buying necessities for living. I was also overwhelmed with all of the new cafes and restaurants I could try out.
In regards to funding, if you are an ERASMUS student, you receive funding for your travels which was amazing and definitely a life saver during my time away. I also saved up a lot during Summer and worked two part-time jobs to make sure I had flexibility when I was away without worrying. With the money I saved, I made sure to budget it monthly so I would have an equal spending per month!
Depending on whether you also use your study abroad to travel, this will also add to your expenses. Again, there are cheap methods of travel in which you can find and search around for. For accommodation when travelling around, I highly recommend Air B&B! You can find the cutest and most quaint accommodations at really good prices!
I couldn’t add up my total spending during my four months, and to be honest, I don’t think I would even want to know. But it genuinely doesn’t need to be expensive! I know I could have spent a lot less than I did, but I saved for the reason to spend while I was there haha.
I hope this was helpful to anyone considering or going on an exchange semester. If you have any other questions then feel free to ask me in the comments or even through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Until next time..
~ K x