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How Much Does It Actually Cost to Study Abroad?

One of my major concerns when deciding whether or not I should study abroad for a semester was how much money I would need for the duration of the three-month semester. Though I did my best to save up, I still found myself saying no to a lot of things in order to keep my spending to a minimum. That’s why I am writing this post—to give you a realistic look at how much you’ll need in order to study abroad, based on what I actually spent during my three months in London.

Furnishings – $180.74

The first thing I spent money on was furnishing my dorm room. I went to discount stores in London, such as Primark and Argo’s, to get cheap sheets, a comforter, pillows, and other little things like shampoo and conditioner. The $180 figure also includes everything I bought for my kitchen (bowls, plates, silverware, and cooking tools like pots and pans). I also paid a little more to get a mattress topper because I can’t sleep on stiff beds. This was a one-time purchase that I made in my first week abroad.

Groceries – $309.41

This number might vary a little depending on whether or not you’re more inclined to eat out or cook for yourself. I didn’t love spending time in my shared kitchen (and I had roommates who tended to steal food) so I ate out more often than I normally would at home. Most of my food purchases were staple items like milk, cereal, bread, peanut butter, and pasta. On average, I spent about $20 every other week on groceries.

Eating Out – $314.29

I tended to eat out a lot, so this number might be a little lower for you. I also didn’t include eating out during my weekend travels here, as that amount is included within the travel spending section.

RELATED: The Best Student Travel Discounts and Where to Find Them

Entertainment – $79.16

This includes going to the movies, going bowling, and seeing a show in the West End. As with my dining out figure, any entertainment purchases made during weekend travel are included in the travel spending section. I also used cash quite often when making these types of purchases, so that amount is also not reflected here.

Transportation – $153.21

If you’ve read my other posts, you know that my main mode of transportation while in London was on the tube. To pay for my tickets, I used an Oyster card. I tended to “top-up” my Oyster card with 30 pounds (around $45) every other week while abroad.

Phone – $93.09

My phone spending was just three easy payments (once a month) of 20 pounds each (around $30 depending on the exchange rate that day). Your phone plan may be higher or lower depending on what phone plan you purchase.

Travel – $2,005.30

Before you freak out about how much money I spent on travel, let me list out everything that this number includes: flights to Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Barcelona, Ibiza, and Prague; hostels/AirBnb’s in each city; transportation to and from each airport; all food and drink purchases in each city; all entertainment in each city; and any souvenirs bought while traveling. On average, I spent about $400 per trip (counting Ibiza and Barcelona as one) for everything, which is actually pretty cheap for three days.

Other – $157.00

Other purchases include a monthly Spotify bill, presents for friends who had birthdays in my abroad months, withdrawals of foreign currency, and small purchases here and there.

Cash – $520

I started my trip with about 350 pounds worth of cash. By the end of my trip, I’d spent all but a small amount of change leftover.

Grand Total: $3,812.20

Your grand total may be more or less than this amount. Before leaving, I was told that on average study abroad students spend somewhere between $3,000 and $8,000. Clearly, I am on the lower end of this scale, and I can’t imagine how someone would spend $8,000 in three months, but I hope that this helps you to budget your own trip.

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Nicole DiCenso is currently studying abroad in London, England. She loves to travel and document her journeys, so follow along on Instagram @GirlLostAbroad.

(Photo: Woman Looking in Empty Wallet via Shutterstock)

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