When you travel another country to learn English, you discover there is more than just the adjustment of a new language. Alongside adapting to different communication, you now have to adapt to new cultures, social norms, traditions, and new routines. With all of this novelty, international students must find a balance between the known and the unknown. One part of this journey that should be known is how to handle your money during your stay. Knowing where to receive financial aid and how to budget, transfer, and earn money will smooth your stay and leave you more open to learning English in a new, yet familiar, environment.
Creating a budget during your ESL program will help you keep peace of mind and keep you on track so when complete your program, you are not stressed about being in too much debt. Find out where and how you will receive your money during your stay. Will you apply for scholarships and financial aid? Knowing where your money will come from will help you estimate how much you will be able to spend. Once you know how much you can spend, determine your lifestyle. Prices may be different than from your home country, so you may have to alter your lifestyle. These are some items you may have to purchase during your program:
- Tuition and Fees
- Housing and Utilities
- Health Insurance
- Personal Expenses
Always be on the lookout for how to save money. Talk to local people in your town about this—many will be able to point you in the right direction for places and shops with cheaper prices. Organize your budget in a way that works for you, perhaps an Excel spreadsheet or an online program, and make sure you spend money on what you need before you spend any on what you want.
Interested in saving money? Check out this article on how you can save money while enrolled in your ESL program.
When making your budget, keep in mind that the exchange rate may alter the amount of money you have in that country. Since exchange rates are constantly changing, it is important to research these rates before you plan your budget and before you exchange your money. Most currency can be exchanged in airports and banks and can either be exchanged in your home country or in the country of your ESL program. Research and decide which place would be best for exchanging currency before you arrive in the country.
Exchange rates will also affect your money during the process of “wiring money.” If you wish to have your funds transferred electronically, or wired, from your home country a bank overseas, both banks must be able to send and receive the transfers. It is important to ensure that this is possible for both banks that will be involved in this process.
Even with the pre-planning and budgeting, some students will need some financial help. In fact, one of the biggest barriers to learning English in another country is the expensive program costs and cost of living. The truth is that it is very hard to find financial aid specifically for ESL programs. If you are interested in pursuing a degree program after your ESL program, some colleges and universities will offer scholarships that can be applied toward ESL programs. While it can be challenging to find financial aid, talk to ESL program department at your university to see if there are any scholarships available.
There may also be independent scholarships through private organizations or government sponsored scholarships. Scholarships can be based on merit and achievement, culture and community, programs and subjects, destination and more. Take time to research the scholarship options. There are many scholarships that don’t get used because nobody applies for them.
Students traveling abroad for ESL programs must adapt to a variety of changes. In the midst of all the stress of newness, money can bring either a positive or negative response. Hopefully, with enough research and planning, each student’s program will yield successful results, both academically and financially, if the consider their finances, financial aid and scholarships.