As a study abroad student in Europe the urge to do everything in the small amount of time you have allotted here can often override the money you have on hand to actually spend. In Europe, travel is relatively cheap- the ability to move inter-state is made easy by cheap air fare and train systems. Since being here I have had the opportunity to travel to a few places during my Fall semester, my favorite being Brussels in Belgium. Walking down the cobbled streets viewing the old buildings brought so much happiness to my heart and that time was very important. The fact that I had to come back to Norway and spend an exorbitant amount of money on rent and food only dampened that feeling slightly.
Norway is on every list you can find about the most expensive countries in the world, alongside Iceland and Switzerland the cost of living here is extremely high. For example, a carton of 6 eggs will usually run you $4 and milk close to $7. It’s easy to break the bank here if you are not smart and I did exactly that my first semester here. The warm weather and friendly people made me want to be out and about often and there were times where I would be eating out once or twice every two weeks. Between traveling, books, tuition and rent I found myself at the end of the semester unable to travel for Christmas like I had wanted to. Because of this I spent my Christmas break mostly alone, which I spoke about in my previous blog post. I do not regret any of the time I spent out in Fall, though I would have maybe eaten out less, because it gave me the opportunity to spend time with locals and try food I would not have had the opportunity to do otherwise but as I come into my spring semester I plan to be a bit smarter about everything.
To save money abroad the best thing to do is decide what is an actual goal and what is unnecessary. For example, I have decided to predominately eat at home and pack my lunches for my long school days. I have also opted not to spend money on a gym membership and work out outdoors or at home. With the beautiful hiking trails available in Oslo the need for a gym to stay active is largely unnecessary. On top of that, I intend to take advantage of the twenty hours a week international students are allowed to work during a semester. Finding odd jobs such as dog walking will allow me to supplement my fixed income slightly. Also, studying at such an international university means the school often have free activities scheduled to help you get out in the city without breaking the bank. These small changes in spending habits will hopefully allow me to continue to enjoy my academic year abroad and possibly travel once the summer starts.
France here I come…