By Jess Blissitt
So, your upcoming trip to Temple is approaching, and you’re wondering how you can spend your money wisely to stretch it over these next few months. Yes, you are so excited for all the trips that await you, but you’re also worried that being in a foreign country might force you to panic buy noodles for your dorm. Well, here’s my advice, as I move into my final month in Philadelphia, of how to spend your money wisely.
Splurge on trips, not takeout. Entering a new area can be scary for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest shocks was that I couldn’t find any of the food that I loved! There was no Sunday roast or beans on toast in the local supermarket but there WAS whipped cheese? What? So for most of my time here, I have eaten a lot of takeout, and it’s not always been worth the high cost. If you choose to live on campus in Temple Towers, you get a shared kitchen with your roommates! That way, you spend less money, and that money can go on trips! Although I don’t always enjoy eating pasta every day, I think it was worth it to be able to go see so much of the US! So far, I’ve visited New York, Baltimore, Washington, Boston, and San Francisco. I would eat all the pasta in the world if it meant I could travel every day- but that might just be me! My point is, prioritize what you want to spend your money on and save it in other areas.
Everything is better with friends. I’ve found that doing split meals with other study exchange groups has saved me a lot of money. This works for split Ubers as well! It meant that I got a meal for $3 or $4, and I got to spend an evening with my friends! In fact, it was particularly lovely because we all got to share a beloved meal from home, and a lot of them I had never tried before. For example, my friend is from The Netherlands, and they introduced me to Boerenkool Stamppot. It’s a dish including sausages, kale and potatoes. I think sharing food and why we love it was a great way to get to know each other and learn more about our cultures. I plan on making everyone a Sunday roast!
Hostels and buses are your new best friends! Although Amtrak provides the scenic route, I have found that the bus to Washington was almost half the price! Similarly, hostels will always be cheaper than a hotel! For example, hotels in Savannah, GA cost around $80-$120/night, whereas their local hostel costs $20 to sleep in a dormitory!! It may not be for everyone, but it definitely saved me some coins to fund my trip to Disneyland! At the end of the day, isn’t it for the experience?
Keep on top of how much money you have left. So, imagine this: You’re entering the final month of your study abroad, but you’re too scared to check your bank balance in case it’s already in overdraft. Sound familiar? Well, what I did is made a list of all my money budgeted for my semester, and all the known expenses I would have. Putting myself on a known budget definitely made things easier, so I could know my financial situation at all times.
Don’t think about it too much! The truth is, you may only be in this country and close enough to see all these beautiful things ONCE. Why waste it? Last weekend, my friends and I just randomly decided to visit Miami for a couple of days, and the sunshine was so beautiful and such a seclusion from chilly Philadelphia! Yet, I think what I loved most about that trip, was the fact that it was so spontaneous, so up in the air, that I didn’t have enough time to stress about the worst possible scenarios- there was only room for fun!
Overall, just enjoy it! You only live once.