As I settle into studying abroad in Prague, my home for the next few months, I need to figure out the most efficient way to make the most of my time here while maintaining financial responsibility. Luckily, studying abroad as a University of Wisconsin-Madison student is actually costs less costly than a semester in Madison. However, this is not the case everywhere, so my advice here would be to visit the study abroad office at your college and go through the various options available.
With tuition and housing figured out, it’s also important to consider the costs of living in various places. Although tuition may be comparable in two countries-- for example, London and Prague-- the costs of living in the two cities are astonishingly different. With a few exceptions, I have barely spent over $10 on a meal here, with coffee averaging $2.80 per cappuccino (although, if you read my blog post on my personal spending, you’d know that coffee is an item I could still cut down on). In fact, nearly everything in Prague costs significantly less than anywhere I have been in the US, and with the ease of the public transportation system, the need for taxis and Ubers is far less.
This is starting to feel a bit like a Prague advertisement, but I assure you, there are other fiscally reasonable options.
This does not mean to cancel out London or any other costly city. It does, however, require more planning and saving. Being able to study abroad is such an exciting privilege, so making your dream location work can be done. I’m sure any university’s study abroad office can offer better advice, but here is a quick summary of my budgeting mindset while abroad:
Coming into this study abroad program, I essentially have the angel and devil of finances on my shoulders.
The devil, too focused on the excitement of being in a new place, tells me to spend it all on experiences and shopping right off the bat. Contrarily, the little angel reminds me to prioritize and spend wisely. Although I know not to listen to the first, I do think that it is important to take advantage of the travel and exploration opportunities while studying abroad. While creating a budget for my time in Prague, I am currently researching various trips and experiences and deciding which of those mean the most to me. So while I will be investing in certain experiences and necessities, I plan to cut back on the other expenses that don’t mean quite as much to me. To make this choice, I ask myself: will I regret this decision once I am back home? If I feel as though I will beat myself up over not taking certain trips or experiencing a great meal, I’ll make the splurge. However, if i seems like something I’d soon forget, I forgo the purchase
Sophia Westover is a senior at University of Wisconsin - Madison. She is currently working on BA in Journalism with an emphasis on Strategic Communication and a minor in Gender and Women's Studies.