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It recently occurred to me that my expectations have been a bit too high in terms of what my budget will allow me to do in Europe. I’ve had fantastical ideas of traveling to as many places as possible, including Paris, Amsterdam, Spain, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere. The reality is, though, that I will be very lucky if I can afford to go to even half of these places. Once I put together my savings, Christmas gifts and loan money, I will have about $3,500 to spend during my three and a half months in London. To me, this is a huge sum of money to have, but it is actually very little when considering all that I hope to do while I am there.
First and foremost I have to finance my living in London. My flat and tube pass have been prepaid with the program fee, so luckily I don’t have to worry about that, and I receive a weekly £40 meal stipend (which, let’s be honest, won’t be enough). I plan to experience all that London has to offer, including museums, tourist attractions, shopping, nightlife, etc. These expenses will quickly add up.
I’ve been told that it’s quite cheap to travel within Europe, through discount airlines and youth hostels. However, I will, of course, want to fully experience and explore the cities and purchase souvenirs, which will undoubtedly get very expensive. I’ve been doing the math and I’m really not sure how many of these trips I can afford.
At the program orientation at my school a month ago, three students that previously participated in the program were there to answer our questions. They said that they had spent $5,500-6,500 during their time in London. They noted that they had done a lot of traveling throughout the UK and Europe as well, but it was no more than I hope to do. While they spent an incredible sum of money, I’m sure it was not at all difficult to do, and it was actually a pretty realistic amount considering all of the traveling they did. It makes me a little uneasy about my own budget, which seems uncomfortably small compared to theirs.
The reality is that I am a college student with a very limited budget, and I have to face the fact that I simply will not be able to do all that I would like to. I will be endlessly grateful for all that I do get to experience in Europe, but I will still be disappointed when I have to nix certain things from my itinerary. I will be on a budget there just as I am at home, but I am still determined to stretch my dollar as far as it will go and have the best experience possible with the funds that are available to me.