How I Funded My Semester Abroad

Today we’ll talk numbers. By that I mean figures, dollars, pounds — the currency, not the thing you and I both dread looking at every time we step into the doctor’s office. I wanted to give you some insight about how on God’s green and blue earth I’m living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and managing to go to bed every night with my peace of mind still intact. If you don’t already know, I’m a finance student. I love my numbers. If you were to lock me up in a cell (preferably Microsoft Excel) and leave me alone with some banana bread, a ballpoint pen, a spreadsheet full of numbers, and a digital copy of “Lemonade” on shuffle, I would probably thank you when I am paroled.


I chose a semester abroad compared to a short summer or full year because it was the most rational selection from a financial standpoint as well as my graduation plans. I applied to several scholarships through USF as well as on my own and was awarded 3 which covered my entire program. I had worked the semester prior to studying abroad so it was nice to have this money for personal spending as opposed to putting it towards my program costs. I also created an excel spreadsheet several months ago to help keep track of payments for my program and my weekly budget while I’m abroad.

The first column is which month (in white) and which week (in green) I am budgeting in. The second column is how much I am budgeting to spend in that week. The third column is food followed by transportation, entertainment, and miscellaneous. Then the last green column is how much I have spent in that week. The final red column shows whether I overspent or underspent in that week.

This is how I have been successful at budgeting all semester. It is a bit more advanced given that I personally enjoy budgeting, but do whatever works best for you even if its as simple as keeping your receipts for the week or adding up your transactions for the week on your online bank account! Financial independence is very important when you are studying abroad. You are managing your own spending so it is important to know how much you use per week so that you don’t run out of money while you are away for the summer, semester, or year. If you follow some of these tips, you will have the most successful study abroad semester ever. Good luck!

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