Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Financing a year abroad

The year abroad is often considered to be one of the best parts of a degree. Warwick has partnered with a multitude of different universities across the globe to provide years abroad for students across many disciplines. However, when considering whether or not to take a year abroad, it is important to consider how you will finance everything involved and what you should keep in mind.

You will receive a typical maintenance loan which may even be higher than what you would receive for studying in the UK

First, it is useful to know what sort of funding is available to support you. You will receive a typical maintenance loan which may even be higher than what you would receive for studying in the UK. If you are heading to Europe, you also have the option of an Erasmus+ grant, although this may be change depending on future Brexit negotiations. Other help is available depending on your household income, such as a travel grant or tuition fee waiver being available for families with an income less than or equal to £35,000. Any undergraduate bursaries will also continue to be paid while abroad. All information on funding can be found on Warwick’s study abroad page.

Another source of income can come from opting for a work or teaching placement, rather than a study placement. Work placements can be more challenging to source than a university placement but can be well worth it to develop professional skills or a second language. If you are a language student there is also the option of a British Council assistantship placement. This is an option that I would personally recommend as my wage allowed me to spend my weekends travelling to various cities, making the most of my time abroad.

It is useful to pack as lightly as possible when moving abroad to cut down on some of those extra baggage costs

Your most significant cost is probably going to concern accommodation. If you move to a city such as Paris or Tokyo, the cost of living is going to be much higher than if you are living in the French countryside, as I did. The best way to find out how much accommodation will be is by talking to previous year-abroad students who can tell you where to live and where to avoid. Although searching for housing online may be useful to gauge rent prices, it is often recommended to secure accommodation once you are abroad to avoid being scammed.

Next comes travel costs. These are also going to vary based on whether you can hop on a cheap flight from London to Luxembourg as I did, or whether you are going further afield to somewhere like Australia or Canada. Not only do you have to get yourself to the country but also all your luggage too, which is why it is useful to pack as lightly as possible when moving abroad to cut down on some of those extra baggage costs.

There is much more to living abroad than simply going to work and university; trying new foods, doing new activities and travelling to new places are all part of the experience

It is also very useful to have a chunk of money to spend once you arrive. This can cover all sorts of costs, such as a travel card (which I would highly recommend if you are in France) or hefty cooking utensils that you were unable to bring from home. If you do decide to find your accommodation once in the country, you need to consider the costs for an Airbnb or a hotel to stay in while you are searching for a more permanent residence. Of course, you also need money for day-to-day life. As I have already mentioned, cost of living is going to vary massively throughout the world and so you should conduct some research into how much a typical food shop, pint, or commute will cost in your city.

Finally, you need to consider what you would actually like to do. There is much more to living abroad than simply going to work and university; trying new foods, doing new activities and travelling to new places are all part of the experience. It is therefore worth figuring out how much money you can reasonably budget to have extra fun. There are a few tips that you can take with you to try and reduce such costs. For example, booking trips in advance and travelling via services like FlixBus rather than the train can save a fair bit of money. You could try to eat and drink outside of major tourist areas in cities and opt for cheaper places like food markets, rather than a sit-down meal.

It is not possible to put a definite price tag on how much you will spend on your year abroad. However, considering the above factors and researching the country and city where you will be staying will allow you to come to an estimate. If you feel that you are struggling with money while abroad or think you cannot afford it, it is always worth contacting the university to see what financial aid is available. Bon voyage!

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