Being a penny-pinching student in a country where the exchange rate isn’t to your favour isn’t the best news for your wallet and bank account. Luckily, there are a myriad of different ways to save a pound or euro here or there, so don’t worry! You won’t have to subsist on instant ramen for your entire semester.
Visit a Charity Shop or Two
Charity shops are just like thrift stores back in the States; stocked fully by local donations, charity shops carry all sorts of knick-knacks and odds and ends. They’re also a treasure trove if you take the time to sift through them. Often you can find barely-worn clothing, crockery and cookware, shoes, books, and anything else your heart desires for far less than if you would buy them brand-new at the high street. Our ESC intern needed a pair of sturdy shoes for an upcoming Highlands trip, and managed to find a pair of almost-new Timberland boots for only £15 at a charity shop near her flat. Often there is a street or a block in which multiple charity shops are clustered together, so do a bit of research and then spend the day slowly searching your way through them with a friend. You never know what you’ll find!
Use Your Student Card
Your student I.D. will be your new best friend during your time abroad. Keep it in your wallet next to your UCEAP Emergency Contacts card at all times! Cafes, restaurants, cinemas, special exhibitions at museums, hair salons, even high street chains like Topshop and Urban Outfitters offer discounted prices for students, so keep it handy. And never be afraid to ask if a discount is provided! Speaking up may save you 10% or more on your purchase.
Get Advice from the Locals
Your classmates or flatmates who have been living here probably all have the inside scoop and savvy on where to get cool clothes for cheap, which cafe has the best lunch deals, which bookstore will have your textbooks for the best prices, which airline offers the cheapest flights, and so on. Use them as an informational resource! This topic is also a great icebreaker if you’re just getting to know them; what bonds university students together better than relating over saving money?
Save on Your Food
Ahh, the one thing you literally can’t live without. Worry not, there are plenty of ways to save money on food during your time abroad without surviving solely on pasta and jarred sauce. Firstly, eat out less! You’ve heard this advice time and time again since you were young, but the difference in the money you will save when you prepare your own meals versus eating out is astounding. There is most definitely a price hierarchy to food shops here, so ask around to get a feel for which will give you the most for your pound or euro. Lidl, Asda, Aldi, and Morrison’s are generally the best known budget shops with plenty of fresh high-quality produce for much cheaper than other food stores. You can also find essential household items, like toilet roll and washing up liquid, for a lower price at these shops.
Every penny counts when you’re abroad, so stay mindful of your finances and you’ll be grand!