The Problem With the Study Abroad Mindset

Annika Ehrig
Major: Spanish and Sales and Business Marketing
CIMBA, Fall 2018.

I’ve planned on studying abroad since I was a sophomore in high school. The concept has always excited me and given me an excuse to leave the common sights of my campus and see other countries, continents, and cultures.

I’m so blessed and this is an incredible opportunity but I want to break down some common mindsets I’ve seen and heard among my study abroad peers and just the everyday young traveler / student / twenty-something / study abroader that have been bothering me lately. The main one being:

“Traveling is expensive!”

Image: Annika visiting Westminster Abbey.

I’ve heard this 10000000000 times. Don’t get me wrong. Heck, it’s NOT free but please reconsider what your conscious is telling your subconscious AND what you’re telling those around you. Traveling is only expensive if you make it expensive.

Why am I saying this? I’m saying this because I think that studying abroad is an incredible experience. But your last experience abroad shouldn’t be in college, at least if traveling internationally is REALLY a desire for you! So many people market study abroad as, “A once in a lifetime experience!” Now studying at a foreign university maybe, but seeing the world shouldn’t be.

Before I go on, Ask yourself if traveling is REALLY a PRIORITY for you? If so, continue reading.

I bet you can tell I’m really passionate. If there’s something I’ve heard almost as much as I’ve heard, “Traveling is expensive!” is “Change your MINDSET, change your LIFE!” Study abroad should be the start or first leg of the beginning of an incredible life of discovering the world and all the unique cultures and people that create it. Many students study abroad because of the financial aids such as grants, student loans, scholarships, and even gifts from family members. All of us even save up some or a lot of our own personal money from working. Students seem to put high value and importance on studying abroad in college, but why do so many seem to lose their hope for traveling post-graduation?

Well, it’s because of the lies we’ve let society tell us:

  • “Traveling is Expensive!”
  • “You can’t travel with a family!”
  • “Once you start working you won’t have any time!”
  • “Do it while you’re young!”

These are just a few of the many things I’ve heard personally. I was talking with a friend quite recently and we were discussing why and how traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, I saved 20% of my paychecks over the last 12 months of working a very part-time job and put it towards traveling. I raised well over $1000. Is that a lot? For some, no but for me, that’s a pretty penny! You’d be surprised how far you can stretch $1000 if you know how to travel on a budget.

Let’s do some basic math:

  1. Take your annual salary
  2. Multiply it by .1 if you want to save 10% or .05 if you want to save 5% etc.


So, if you made $40,000 which is a ballpark estimate for someone just graduating college and you saved even ONLY 5% you’d be saving $2,000 annually for travel. That would provide the opportunity for you to have a wonderful vacation or a few mini trips in the US. Or a nice week abroad (budget-traveler style).

Image: Milan Cathedral.

My point is you’re never too broke to start saving for travel. Even if you have student loans to pay off, you can still save 5% or even just 2% of your paycheck. The point of the math is to show that creating a habit of saving event the littlest bit will pay off in the end.

I hope that this short read has encouraged you to change your mindset about traveling post-study abroad or post-undergrad.

What is budget travel…..?

To be read in the next blog post 😎

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