Letters from Abroad

Money for Chocolate

Brussels is a necessary destination for anyone who enjoys waffles, chocolate, frites and beer. Seriously, if you like those things then you must go to this city! It seemed as if every other shop sold chocolate, waffles or frites; granted, we did stay about 20 meters from the Grand Place (the city square), and thus were in a very touristy area. However, everyone (including the locals) was enjoying these delicious treats. How can anyone turn down a one-euro waffle? I don’t think it is possible.

As I ate my weight in these treats, and bought souvenirs, and paid for the hostel and paid for transportation, my wallet took a big hit, and I came to a realization: studying abroad costs a lot of money. Wow! What a revelation! I know, I’m a great mind. If you have rich parents who can pay for you to travel around Europe, great! Enjoy yourself! If you don’t fall into that category, do not fret, because you can travel around for cheap, and there are ways to save / earn a bit of money while abroad.

First, the summer before you go abroad try to get a job that pays. I completely understand the difficulty of this task, but there’s nothing else to say. I know people who pay for their trips through money they made off eBay by selling their old Pokémon cards. This friend did happen to have many cards. However, if you are a yearlong student in England you will be eligible to work for up to 20 hours per week. Myself, and other members of my group have found part time work here, so it is not impossible, but it will be hard to juggle a job with travel, work, and societies.

Second, search as long as possible to find that cheap deal. These options generally involve early flights, or traveling on off days such as Thursday, and are long. To get to Brussels I took MegaBus to London, stayed one night, then took a 9 a.m. bus from London to Brussels, to make it a grand total of 9 hours on a bus, but it was 55 pounds. Ryan Air is another great option, and generally does not cost much. I found a round trip ticket to Dublin for 37 pounds.

Third, try to save some of your stipend, eat cheaply, cook for yourself, don’t go out every night on the weekend and jump at every possible free meal. UEA tends to have a lot of events where they serve sandwiches, events that I “attend” and grab a sandwich or two, with some crisps, of course.

I don’t have all the answers for saving money, but hopefully some of these tips help. Traveling while abroad takes work, and the earlier you plan things out the better. Pick the places that matter to you, and splurge a bit. Remember you can’t “treat yo self” everyday.