Upon starting my post-secondary education, I knew I wanted to travel and see the world.
I also unfortunately knew that school was going to be expensive, as is the act of travelling. Thankfully, in my teenage years I was prepared for this and I was able to save up what little amount of money I earned from working in a small café, and thanks to some careful planning, budgeting, and frugal living I was able to make my dreams of scholarly travel come true!
I love my home in Ireland especially as this is where my family is, but it was really important to me to travel and have the chance to see more of the world, especially as this was the perfect time in my life to do it. I understand that not everyone has the foresight to plan ahead and save up for a few years, but in my experience I found ways that can still help you to make the most of your travelling and moving on a budget.
So Why Did I Choose Australia?
The world was my oyster, so to speak, and I could have gone anywhere in the world – so what made me choose Australia as the place I wanted to go to school? There were a few reasons. For starters, Australia is the 3rd most popular destination for students in the world, even though their population is only about 23 million people for such a big landmass. I had also heard a statistic that seven out of the world’s top one hundred universities were located in Australia, with over a thousand other institutions to choose from. A lot of people choose their classes first, and then decide where to take them. I choose where I wanted to study first, and picked my classes – which was easy because there are over 20,000 courses available in Australia! (So I’ve been told, I have never sat down and counted them all for myself…).
Why Move Away to Study?
I can only speak for myself, but I’ve spent time with a lot of other students who chose to study abroad and our reasons for wanting to do that were often the same. In my case, one of my biggest reasons was that I needed some time away from my parents. They’re great people and really nice, but the house was starting to become more and more, especially with my longing to travel. Inspired by this, I started saving up and working hard starting when I was about 15. By the time I was ready for school, I knew I wouldn’t have to be working a fulltime job while studying to pay for it and that allowed me to focus a lot more on my classes.
The Single MOST Important Tip I Learned
If I could recommend one skill to anyone who is thinking of travelling and moving abroad to study, it’s to learn how to negotiate. You don’t have to become some Wall Street power broker or anything like that, but just learning the basics of negotiation can save you an absolute fortune. I put together a quick list of ways that I was able to save money thanks to basic negotiation skills.
• Rent: I noticed it had been listed for a couple of months, and I knew the landlord would be pressed to find a great tenant so I got a much better price.
• Tuition: This wasn’t a negotiation so much as just taking advantage of opportunities that existed for grants and scholarships, but if I didn’t try to negotiate at all I wouldn’t have gotten the ones I did!
• Textbooks : Called up my professors, asked if the previous edition was really going to be THAT out of date or not, and ended up getting them for next to nothing from the campus bookstore.
• Food: I took a VERY part time job in a restaurant for a few hours each weekend, in exchange for most of my groceries and the occasional cooked meal.
• Discount on moving: I told the moving/shipping companies that I was going to be moving again shortly, and they offered me a discount if I used them each time.
I Moved More Than Once
I didn’t just move from Ireland to Australia and stay put, though. During the five-year period of my studies (It would have been four, but I took some time off in between) I moved but a couple of times. This was my plan from the get-go, which made it easier. When you know you’re going to be moving again, it makes it easier to pack and unpack and to label things. For example, I kept all of my labeled boxes after the first move so that it was really, really fast and easy to re-pack everything.
I was also able to save about 20% on the cost of sending my stuff from one place to another simply by telling the moving company that I would use them again if they did a good job – and they did a great job!
My schooling in the end took five years instead of the standard four due to two six-month stints where I moved to Europe for some time off. I figured I had worked hard for YEARS to be able to put myself through school and to really enjoy this period in my life, so why not take a bit of time off to fully enjoy it? I only planned the first break, but I had enough money left over after the first European stint that I just couldn’t resist a second.
Sweet Home Brisbane
During my independent travels I didn’t take all of my stuff with me to Europe, I kept it in a storage unit in Brisbane. By prepaying for this, I got a great price on the unit. In addition to the cheaper rates, prepaying ended up being a lot better for me as well because I didn’t know if I would have reliable internet access at all times while in Europe. It would have been awful to have one of my payments not go through and end up losing all of my stuff!
Hopefully my experience has helped you on your own journey; the most important thing is to just GO FOR IT! Don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from living a full life, and now is the time for adventures!
Mary Ann Keeling is a graduate from Ireland who was fortunate enough to study abroad and quite a bit of traveling. She loves to try out new foods and drink, enjoys music and sharing her experiences.