Affording a Semester in Copenhagen

Affording a semester abroad anywhere in the world comes with added expenses. Studying in Copenhagen, specifically, has greater expenses than most other places. When I was considering studying abroad, I knew that Copenhagen is an expensive city to live in and had to take my finances seriously. Additionally, each home institution has different policies for how financial aid functions when studying abroad. In my case, a semester at DIS Copenhagen is slightly more expensive than a semester at Eastern University, so I was responsible for paying the difference. 

Financing my time abroad definitely brought me a lot of stress when I was debating whether I would go or not. This is a big factor that I think should really be taken seriously. However, the cost of going abroad should not immediately rule out the possibility. I knew that I really wanted to participate in DIS Copenhagen, so I took certain steps to make that dream more feasible financially. These are some tips on how I am affording a semester in Copenhagen.

  1. DIS scholarships. DIS is aware of the costs of studying in Copenhagen and does its best to provide students with the resources they need. DIS offers need-based, merit-based, and diversity scholarships. I received an email as soon as scholarship applications were made available and applied as soon as possible so that I would have the best chance of receiving funding. The application was simple and straightforward, and I heard back from DIS in a timely manner. I ended up receiving a significant portion of the funds I needed from DIS scholarships. This helped me establish a good relationship with the program from the start and inspired me to try to find ways to give back to the program in my time here.
  2. Outside scholarships. DIS was super helpful in notifying me of not only the scholarships they provide but also scholarships from other organizations. The organization that ended up helping me out a lot with funding my time in Copenhagen is the Fund for Education Abroad. Outside scholarship organizations have different types of applications so it’s important to pay attention to what’s required and when everything is due.
  3. Housing. There are a million reasons to choose a homestay (more on that in a future post), but one is that living with a host family makes studying abroad much more affordable. Host families receive a stipend that covers the cost of having a student and I receive all of my meals from them. My host family is especially generous because they will buy toiletries for me or pay for me when we do any sort of activity together. Students in other housing options rely on a stipend that DIS gives them that is not meant to completely cover their expenses. 
  4. Start saving way before you get here. I got accepted to DIS for the Fall semester in February. At that point, I started putting more money away for my time abroad. When I would get my paycheck from my campus job, I would try to put as much of it as possible into a short-term savings account and the rest of it into my spend account. I once heard this piece of advice: “save your hundreds, spend your twenties.” I tried to stick with this tip as much as possible. I was also lucky to be able to get a well-funded research position over the summer that contributed a significant amount to my savings. If you plan on going out and traveling while abroad, I would recommend having at least $3,000 in savings for a semester at DIS.
  5. Take advantage of student discounts. Whether it’s getting a coffee at Emmery’s or going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, there are plenty of discounts available for students and/or people under 25. Try to shop more at places where these discounts are available. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask if there’s student discount because they are way more common in Europe than in the US.
  6. Use a budgeting app. There are a bunch of apps out there where you can set your own budget and stay accountable. My personal favorite is Mint because it’s easy to use and it notifies me of when I’m going over-budget.

These are just six things that I, personally, have found to be useful while studying abroad. It was important to me to plan ahead because I knew this was going to be one of the most unique times of my life and I wanted to be able to have as much fun as possible and not miss out on any opportunity that comes my way while abroad.

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