One of the first thoughts I had after being accepted into the study abroad program was “how am I going to afford this?” You can’t work on a student visa. I was going to have to pay to move my life to another country, find and stock a house, pay rent, pay for school and supplies, and of course I still wanted to be able to afford to travel and buy gifts and souvenirs.
I was highly encouraged by other students and the study abroad office to apply for as many scholarships as possible, including the Gilman Scholarship, to help above what my normal financial aid would be. This was some of the best advice I got. I applied for probably close to 15 different scholarships, but only received one: the Gilman Scholarship.
The Gilman Scholarship has been extremely helpful in my time abroad. There are some limits on what you can use the scholarship money for, but that was okay. When I moved to Florence, Italy, I found an apartment at a reasonable price, and have been able to use the scholarship to fully pay for my rent during the entire time here. This opened up my other financial aid funds to help in daily life, and saving up for travel. It relieved my stress and worry about how I was going to afford to live in another country and still do the things I wanted to.
Along with applying for scholarships, creating a budget was extremely helpful. I know a budget sounds restrictive; that’s what I thought at first, too. But you have to create a budget based on what you need and want to do. For me, this included rent, food, travel, going out, and souvenirs. I found that it wasn’t restrictive, but helped me keep track of what I was spending on what things, opening up sometimes more money for travel.
You get out of study abroad what you want from it, and applying for scholarships (and hopefully receiving some) and creating a budget for yourself can definitely help you get that.