How a Broke College Student Saw Europe

“How a Broke College Student Saw Europe”

by Mandy Wallace via “MandyWallace.com”

How a Broke College Student Saw Europe

I don’t usually take risks like this.

Sleep on a stranger’s couch? In a foreign country? Forget about it.

I’m usually the one warning friends not to meet people online. There are weirdos out there, you know. And never would I ever go home with a stranger.

Yet there I was, scrolling through profiles online. Name after name in country after country of people willing to lend their couch to me. Ghent, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels. You name the city. You’ll find a couch there with your name on it.

I mean, travel beckoned. And I was broke. Can you blame me?

Here’s how it happened.

Wanderlust: Won’t Take “Nein” for an Answer

Where: Tübingen, Germany.
When: Winter break, 2008.
Who: Nathan and Mandy Wallace, American study abroad students with an itch to travel.

Sure, I could have stayed cooped up in my dorm room. Germany was beautiful enough. Swirling snow, but not so much to be annoying. Hunting for mushrooms on the edge of the Black Forrest. Castles. Baroque churches and medieval architecture. Glittering Christmas markets and mulled wine.

But the world was too close not to explore it.

So this suspicious-of-strangers, no-risk-is-worth-putting-your-life-in-peril, small-town Bakersfield girl was ready to put her life into a stranger’s hands.

Several strangers, as it turned out. . . . .

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How to stay safe when renting an Airbnb

“How to stay safe when renting an Airbnb”

by Stephanie Gaskell via “Fox News

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The rise of Airbnb, the online home rental company, is undeniable. More than 50 million guests have rented lodging through the site since it was launched in 2008. There are now more than 1.5 million listings on the site.

With that growth comes a serious question of safety and security. We’ve all heard the stories of Airbnb guests trashing rental properties or disturbing the neighbors. But now a horrifying story from an Airbnb traveler who says his host locked him in his room and sexually abused him has renters on edge over just how safe it is to rent a room from a complete stranger.

Don’t be afraid to ask the renter questions or even to reach out to past guests for more information about their stay.

On July 4, Jacob Lopez was renting a room from an Airbnb host in Madrid when he says his host locked him in the apartment, began rattling knives in the kitchen and begged him to engage in sexual acts with him, according to the New York TImes.

Lopez frantically texted his mother back in the United States. She called the police station in Madrid but got no response. She called Airbnb, but she says they were unable to tell her exactly where her son was.

It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare, and while the Airbnb host denies the charges, it’s not surprising that Airbnb renters can find themselves in scary situations when trusting that the information provided on the listing is correct. . . . .

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“Couchsurf Your Way Through Study Abroad”

“Couchsurf Your Way Through Study Abroad”

by Claire Voon via “NYU Local

“If you’re studying abroad next semester, chances are you will travel to other cities on the weekends or during spring break. Many students turn to hostels for lodging, but sometimes bunked beds, communal hallway bathrooms and sharing a room with strangers is simply too much to handle. Using Airbnb is one option, but the service can sometimes be pricy, especially for last minute trip planning.. . . .”

 

“70% of Sophomores Going Abroad Opt for Fall Semester”

“70% of Sophomores Going Abroad Opt for Fall Semester”

by Joe Seibert via “Bowdoin Orient”

“Seventy percent of the 340 sophomores who indicated interest in studying off-campus next year specified a preference for the Fall 2014 Semester in their preliminary intent forms submitted earlier this week.  According to Director of International Programs and Off-Campus Study Christine Wintersteen, students nationwide tend to favor . . . . “

 

An Issue of Money for Fin Aid Student Travelers

Check out our Airlines and Hotel Arrangements pages on the Website!!

One of the first things you will need to look into is arranging for your airline and accommodation reservations.  However, don’t get too excited and run right out there to grab the first plane ticket you find–these things take a little forethought first. The first thing you need to remember is that you are paying for the plane tickets (and maybe housing) out of pocket, at least to begin with. You’re probably paying for this little excursion with financial aid money, but think back to all those other semesters. When do you get the money?-after classes have started. The government doesn’t like to hand out money until they know you are attending class.  The problem here is that your student abroad financial aid is run the same way–you aren’t going to see a penny until after the classes have begun. See where this is going? 

You will definitely be paying for airline tickets with your own money–pretty much no school covers that cost for you.  If you’re lucky, the school will arrange for housing for you. If they have a large group, sometimes hotels offer group rates to universities. Since that has to be paid in advance, the school will pay for it and you will just be charged a “housing fee” in tuition, which can be paid after you get fin aid, like any normal semester.  If they don’t arrange housing though, you’re going to probably have to at least pay the deposit on the hotel room, which may be a few hundred bucks

 
The second thing you need to remember is that financial aid always underestimates.You will get a “refund” for the money spent on housing and travel–just like the living expenses in a normal semester. But remember how that book allowance was never nearly enough for your school books?  Well, you may only get a “flight allowance” for $1000, when your plane tickets alone may be as high as $3000 by the time you cover both ways. And housing allowances are often too short as well.  So don’t count on the whole amount being refunded to you–some of this money you’ve got to come up with on your own.
 
Now this may not mean much to some, but to those who need to pinch pennies–this is a HUGE fee.  So shop around a little, check out what’s available and see what options fit your needs.

“How to Rent an Apartment in Paris”

“How to Rent an Apartment in Paris”

by Kate Betts via “Travel + Leisure”

“Last fall I was struggling to finish writing a book about Paris, a memoir recalling five years in the early 1990’s when I lived and worked in the great city on the Seine as a reporter for Women’s Wear Daily, the fashion trade publication. My editor was kind enough to give me an extension when my deadline whizzed by in September. “Go to Paris,” she said. “It will put you in the mood.” Paris is always a good idea, of course. . . . “

Don’t forget that there are other ways to find housing than relying on that which the school supplies such as finding a local apartment; and often schools are overcharged for rooms so it is frequently cheaper to make other arrangements. Just something to keep in mind 🙂