(Please go to YouTube and watch the “Money, Money, Money” scene from the hit 2008 film “Mamma Mia!” and then return to this tab and read the article. Trust me, it’ll get you in the right headspace.)

The most common thing I hear between abroad friends and Hope friends that are abroad is: “I’m worried I’m wasting my time sitting in (insert place they are abroad) every weekend.” Obviously this stress comes from the fact that there’s a wide variety of student travel in any abroad program. There is always going to be an Instagram-perfect student who country hops every single weekend, thus deeming their study abroad experience as not wasted and all opportunities taken perfect advantage of. 

While I think the right mindset going into study abroad is to loosen your grip on your savings account (just a little bit!), I also only recommend that in moderation. After all, you have been saving up and working hard for this! Go experience things, go buy a cute shirt or try that dessert. 

Now that I’m a month into my abroad experience, I both feel like I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money this semester (at least compared to what I spend during an average semester at home… when I also usually work a couple on-campus jobs…) AND like my number of weekends is slipping. Most of them are booked up with hypothetical trips, and if you’re anything like me, then each time you book a trip, you are overwhelmed with the stress of spending money. 

It’s okay to not spend like your housemates or friend group might spend. It’s okay to sit out when the group chat is planning their fifth meal out that week. There’s no shame in setting your own money boundaries and trying to keep to it. 

I know as I look ahead to my weekend trips planned to London or Greece or Venice… I am staying healthily money conscious. There’s a number in my head that I am hoping to have left in my bank account by the time I’m flying home. 

That’s enough for me. Why am I writing this rather than a quirky little story from my Italian adventures? Because my friends––be it Hope or not––are scared to talk about money with each other. Which is understandable, you never know where someone else is financially and you never want to assume. However, it’s a hard thing to deal with when none of your peers are open to talking about it. 

So this one goes out to the students that are trying their best to meal prep and save their pennies wherever possible. You are seen, and there is no right or wrong way to go abroad. You don’t have to tag a new exotic location every weekend to make the best of your time in your chosen country. Sometimes a weekend spent exploring parks or hitting up that one free museum you walk past on your way to school can be just as worth it as an expensive weekend escapade to Barcelona. 

Go forth! Save that money and take a deep breath! It’ll work out okay. I can promise you that you aren’t wasting this experience, no matter how you choose to spend it. (No pun intended.)

Published by kathrynsmith

Class of 2023 Communications Major, Writing and Theatre Double Minor IES Rome, Italy

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