Go abroad and save money? While it may sound like an oxymoron, it isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You don’t have to choose between your dream of studying abroad and all of your life savings!
We all know that going on vacation requires a bit of a budget. But one of the greatest parts of life overseas is getting the chance to experience a new society. In other words: You are no longer a tourist. You’re a resident. So you don’t have to spend your time—or your money—hopping from one tourist spot to the next. Taking a more relaxed approach to discovering your new home will be rewarding for you and your bank account.
How, you ask? Keep reading for some tips on how to have fun and save big!
Learn how to cook
Restaurants aren’t the only place to get a taste of authentic Canadian cuisine. Ask homestay parents, friends, or classmates to share a recipe for their favourite home-cooked meal.
It can be done! While teaching English in Japan, I was lucky to have adult students who were willing to teach me how to cook some traditional Japanese meals. The more recipes I collected, the less often I had to depend on restaurant food to feed me.
Get active to get where you’re going
Of course, you’ll need to get around your new city. But let’s say the bus to school or work costs $2 one way. That’s $4 a day, $20 a week, and $80 a month. If you choose to walk or bike instead, that’s some good monthly savings. Plus, you’ll burn some calories and be kind to the earth while you’re at it.
It can be done! I used to bike almost everywhere in Japan: to and from work, to the grocery store, and even to a night out on the town. And my bike’s handy basket made carrying extra bags that much easier!
Host game night. Or movie night
Your new friends will likely have some board games from their youth stored at the bottom of a drawer or closet. Or some old favourite flicks hidden away. Why not ask them to share their favourites with you… or teach them a popular game from back home… or show them your favourite movie? The possibilities are endless—and free!
It can be done! Over a two-year period, I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching all 10 seasons of Friends with my Japanese roommate. It was a great way to introduce some old ‘friends’ to a new one.
Don’t shop ’til you drop
It can be hard to resist buying into local fashion. But don’t let yourself be fooled by all of the ‘Canadiana’ around. These products are usually marked up too high and geared to tourists. Look around you: What are your friends wearing? You’ll probably notice they don’t dress all that differently than you. So why not take a shopping break while you’re here?
It can be done! My first year in Japan, I decided to save that extra space in my luggage for all the souvenirs I would need to bring home at the end of my stay. And it’s easy to stop yourself from buying unnecessary items when you know you’ll have the job of packing them all up again in the near future!
When you’re living abroad, it’s hard not to transform into a social butterfly. So many new people to meet, sights to see, and things to do! Just remember to schedule some ‘me time’ too. Scrapbooking is a great way to catch your breath after a busy week, record your memories of life abroad, and—you got it—save some cash!
It can be done! I was never one for scrapbooking, but my creative side took over during my first year away from home. Now, my scrapbook is one of my most treasured memories of a very special time in my life.
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