With the advent of social networks and the rise of online businesses, the opportunities for people to find careers around the world have greatly increased. Foreign language courses are usually suitable for elementary school-age children, and it’s not uncommon for high school students to want to study abroad for up to a year. The choices facing young people today are incredibly diverse and exciting.
Transitions Abroad is both a print magazine and an online portal providing in-depth information on issues related to studying, living and working abroad. In their survey of U.S. exchange students, the following characteristics were highly represented:
- Increased self-confidence
- Increased maturity
- Have a lasting impact on the worldview
- Enhance interest in academic learning
- Influenced subsequent educational experiences
- Increase investment in foreign language learning
- Help better understand cultural values and biases
- Affects the desire to find more diverse friends
- Continue to influence interactions with people from different cultural backgrounds
- Skills acquired that impact career path
- After the experience, interest in career direction was stimulated
With these life-changing properties, it’s no wonder so many young people want to spend time studying abroad. However, the cost of this experience can be very high, and financial assistance can be difficult to find. This is a problem for many would-be adventurers.
Is it really on you?
However, before venturing too far down this path, a student needs to make sure that he or she is ready to fully commit to the process. The two- to three-week course abroad itself can cost up to $6,000, so students need to be aware that this is serious business. Making this opportunity possible required hard work and tremendous sacrifice.
It is also important for the student to decide which course will best meet his or her interests. While study programs offer great value, perhaps a volunteer work program would be a better fit. Or maybe a church-oriented missions program would be appealing. Not everything has to be academically based. In fact, if you choose a non-academic type of course, you may find other ways to fund it. So do your research thoroughly to understand not only where you want to go, but also what you want to achieve. It helps you focus.
Step 1 – Personal Commitment or “Paying Out of Your Own Pocket”
I think there are some preliminary steps that should be done early in the process that will reveal how serious the student is about making sacrifices for this adventure. If any of these suggestions bore a student, I would question the decision to move forward.
Control spending habits
The first thing students must do is examine their own spending habits. Saving thousands of dollars will be difficult if watching movies, downloading music, buying clothes, and other incidental expenses every week is more important than studying abroad. Therefore, a student must create a strict budget and cut out those expenses that are preventing him or her from achieving his or her goals.
sell your stuff
Second, it would be wise for the student to evaluate what items he or she could sell to make money for the experience. eBay and other online auction houses are a great way to offload unused or unnecessary items and make some serious cash.
Holding a garage sale at the right time of year can also be very profitable. You can even ask your parents to “donate” all proceeds to your study abroad fund. Perhaps friends and relatives will also be willing to give you their property to sell and keep the money.
exchange your stuff
Next, I know this may sound like an unusual suggestion, but in this age of email and cell phones, it can actually be very profitable. I think students should start a “Red Paperclip” project. I wrote a blog post about this at Top School Fundraising . Essentially, students select their own bargain items and try to trade them to friends, family, coworkers, classmates, or anyone willing to trade them for something of slightly more value. Once the first transaction is completed, students will immediately attempt to exchange the second item for an item of higher value. etc. Eventually, once a student trades an item of great value, he or she can sell it for cash and use it for travel.
I once led a group of adults in this experiment and one of the ladies ended up trading in an old car that had the original chrome. She took the chrome off, polished it, and sold it on eBay for $1,300! All these money-making opportunities require is a cheap item and the courage to ask people to trade. Who knows how far you can go?
Blog’s path to wealthAnother way to generate income is to learn how to make money blogging. There are many websites that will teach you how to “monetize” your blog. You probably won’t get rich doing this, but an income of $50 to $60 a month is easy to build without much effort. Just a little creativity and focus will get the job done. I recommend checking out sites called Problogger or Shoemoney for ideas.
find a job
Well, this is boring: get a job. If you haven’t worked part-time before, taking up a part-time job can be an important step. It may interfere with your studies and personal life. However, if you really want this overseas experience, you may be willing to work a few hours a week. If you make $7 an hour and work 15 hours a week for 36 weeks (an average school year), you can earn $3,780.
Come summer, you can even make more. If you plan far enough in advance, you can really save a ton of money from your total bill this way. You’re not going to do anything glamorous for $7 an hour, but keep your goals in mind. Of course, you can’t spend the earnings. Put it into an old savings account.