How is your college life 2

May 7, 2019

Studying in the US is expensive. With these savings tips, you can still afford it.

1. Live off-campus

As an exchange student in the US, there are several options for accommodation, with rental prices differing from state to state. Some colleges require undergraduate students to live on campus. Dorm rooms, while the most popular, cost an average of $ 1,000 a month.

If you want to save rent, you should therefore look around in good time for off-campus options, such as apartments, shared apartments or a host family. I was lucky with the Rockland Apartments: I pay "only" 515 dollars for my room with its own bathroom in a shared flat for two.

2. Do your own cooking instead of the cafeteria

Another advantage of off-campus life: you are not tied to the college cafeteria. According to the Hechinger Report from 2017, a meal plan - a kind of flat rate for the cafeteria - costs an average of $ 4,500 a year at American universities. No wonder every second student in the US has problems paying for groceries.

Even if vegetables and fruit are more expensive here than in Germany, shopping and cooking yourself is still the cheapest option and the healthiest at that. It's particularly practical in my flat share. Since my roommate and I mostly like the same things, we share the fridge and the cost of all the groceries we both use.

3. Free campus events

One of the wonderful things about college life in the US is the free on-campus events. From interesting lectures to sports competitions and parties in the individual departments. First and foremost, the events should be fun and are good opportunities to meet new people. The bonus: the organizers are almost always supported by sponsors, which means that food and drinks are free.

With Americans identifying strongly with their university, it's no surprise that college merchandise is a visible part of campus life. As an exchange student, you don't really need to take T-shirts with you to the USA, as you can get them for free at pretty much every event.

Fun fact: After my orientation week at the KU, I had no less than 10 new T-shirts in my closet.

4. Use social media

According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of American college students use Snapchat and Instagram every day, closely followed by Twitter and Facebook.

Even as an international student, it makes sense to follow your university on social media channels. Free campus events are advertised daily via Facebook and Instagram and there are groups especially for housing, car pooling and student flea markets.

My tip: Craigslist and Facebook’s Marketplace are the US eBay classifieds if you want to buy or sell something cheaply.

5. Low budget travel

Last but not least: travel. The USA is unfortunately not exactly known as a low budget country, but with a little planning and the willingness to get out of your comfort zone, you can experience a lot.

Instead of spending a lot of money on domestic flights, rent a car with friends. Road trips not only have the advantage in terms of price, you are also more flexible in your travel arrangements and see more of the country. Cheap and environmentally conscious alternatives are trips by bus (Greyhound) and train (Amtrak).

Regarding accommodation, you can find good options on Hostelworld and Airbnb - or typically American in a motel. However, my favorite way of traveling is and will always be couch surfing. On my trips to the USA, I met the nicest people through the network, had great experiences and definitely saved a lot of money.