Studying abroad is awesome. Anyone who has the opportunity to do so yet opts not to is really missing out. I personally believe immersing yourself in another culture makes you a better, more empathetic person. It’s the whole “seeing the world through other people’s eyes” thing. The whole experience is also loads of fun and, depending on how you play your cards, a relatively affordable way to see parts of the world you’d otherwise not be able to visit.
Across the pond in the UK, the British Council supports its exchange students in Europe through the Erasmus+ program.The Guardian’s Daisy Lacey has a piece on that site right now offering advice to young Britons utilizing their Erasmus grants and living in the Euro zone for the first time. Some of her tips are also applicable to us Yanks. For example, it makes little sense to pay major fees to operate your mobile abroad. Instead, it’s good idea to purchase a go-phone or local SIM card instead. Lacey also recommends opening a bank account in your host country. That’s one way to bank for cheap. Back in 2009 before I spent a semester in Germany, I opened a Bank of America account back home because B of A has an agreement with Deutsche Bank wherein account holders can use either bank’s ATMs sans fee. Do a little research and see if you’ve got a similar hook-up with where you’re heading. You can always close the extraneous account later if necessary.
My program in Germany was designed so that independent travel around the continent was encouraged. Lacey recommends looking into discounted ticket programs through Eurail, Megabus, and other outlets. Cheap flights can be had via airlines like Ryanair, though always be on the lookout for hidden fees. Ryanair is also notorious for flying out of and into airstrips in the middle of nowhere, so make sure you’re not expecting your flight to land somewhere it won’t. Still, €5 to fly anywhere can be worth a trip on the scenic route. You could also look into blind bookings offered by airlines such as Germanwings. For a flat fee, the airline will roll a dice and send you to a random destination. It’s great for the spontaneous types. . . .