First semester done: where I went, where I went wrong: money
Wow. Ok. These last few months have been a blur. And I finally calm enough to write a blog. A really quick summation is that I left Buenos Aires to be with my aunt and uncle who are missionaries in La Paz. My time here is lost up since I leave Sunday to go see Santiago, Chile. Then I will be in Lima, Peru for a week. Then I shall return to Buenos Aires.
Let me explain what ended up happening for my first semester abroad. I let a lot of things go terribly wrong. I take full responsibility for it, and am sharing it in the hopes that others who go abroad can avoid my same mistakes. It is frustrating because my mistakes were mostly from me ignoring lessons I had already learned from starting college.
Let’s start with money, I failed to make a budget, and I let my spending get out of hand. Pretty soon I realized I would only have a couple hundred dollars to last me 3 months. Buenos Aires is expensive. I was still in a spending mode as if I was back on campus, getting paid every other week. That is not the case here. Things I should have avoided: taking money out of ATMs. They slap on an extra $19+ peso charge for each extraction. That’s approx USD$5. Also, I should have avoided all the extra snacking. Argentina has some really good candy, beverages, and snacks, but all those little treats start adding up, both in dollars and calories. Another note, is that when looking for a good study spot with wi-if, you can really be limited to restaurants and cafes, if you’re insistent that you want to leave your house. Being in a cafe, you’re going to have to buy something, if you’re there for too long, you may start to feel guilty and order something else.
My aims/goals to improve my spending next semester: no more snacking! Maybe just once a week: I am abroad, I should get to enjoy these treats while I still can, but I need to do a better job limiting myself. Instead of taking money from ATMs, I want to start using Xoom, an online business where you can get a much better exchange rate and pick it up when you can. A lot of other students in IFSA have been really happy with their service so I figure I should try it out. Working with a student visa in Argentina is illegal. Yet there are some opportunities to teach English on the side that, again, I have talked to fellow IFSA students who have taken advantage of it as a way to make some spending money. I will be looking into this for next semester.