7 Ways to Make Money During a Semester Abroad

By Emily Guy Birken on 28 December 2016 0 comments

Studying abroad offers college students the chance to explore the world, learn more about different cultures, and meet people from a variety of backgrounds. But studying abroad can be expensive. The average cost for a semester abroad was $17,785 during the 2012–2013 school year, and costs have no doubt increased since then.

So how can a college student on a budget afford to study abroad and enjoy all of the food, travel, and experiences available to them?

Thankfully, there are plenty of working opportunities available to American students studying abroad.

1. Teaching English

American students studying in a country where English is not the official language have a built-in job opportunity. There is demand for native speaking English teachers all over the world, and the average college student is in a great position to take a part-time job teaching English as a foreign language. You can pursue this informally by chatting with your local classmates or professors at the university to find one-on-one students, or you can pursue more traditional teaching positions through your study abroad program or your university.

This option is especially beneficial to any students who hope to have a career in education. My experience volunteering at a French primary school when I studied abroad was a big factor in my favor when I went to graduate school for a Master's degree in education.

2. Translation Work

If you are relatively fluent in your host country's official language, working as a translator can be a great way to make money and practice your foreign language skills. Typically, translators will translate into their native tongue, which means you can offer successful translation services even if you are not completely fluent in your adopted language.

For many students, simply posting some fliers around campus offering your translation services can net you plenty of clients.

3. On-Campus Jobs

Just like American universities, many international schools offer work-study jobs for students, including those who are visiting from other countries. Stop by the work-study office at your university, or ask some of your local classmates if they know of opportunities for on-campus jobs.

4. Guiding Tours

No matter where you are studying, it's likely that it is a destination for English-speaking tourists. Contact local tourism boards to find out if there is a need for English-speaking tour guides. This will give you an excellent way to learn the intricacies of your adopted home while earning a little cash.

You can also rely on your other expertise to land a tour guide job. For instance, an art history major might find a job as a docent in a museum, while a future architect might be able to get a job leading groups on tours of architecturally significant buildings.

5. Bartending or Working in a Coffee Shop

For students who wish to completely immerse themselves in their new home, working as a bartender or a barista in a cafe can be an excellent way to earn money while also meeting a variety of people and practicing your language or cultural skills.

To land a serving job, stroll through the popular areas of town and chat with managers of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops. Bring your resume and evidence that your visa allows you to work legally.

6. Work at a Tourist Hostel

Hostels are an inexpensive place for tourists to stay, and they can be an excellent workplace for a visiting student. Like hotels, hostels are open round-the-clock, and so they need workers for every shift. If you are fluent in a common language (including English!), the hostel's management might need you to work at the front desk. Hostels have guests from all over the world, and a front desk attendant who can speak multiple languages is a boon.

In addition to front desk work, you might also take a job in housekeeping or the kitchen. While the work may not be glamorous, it will offer you an opportunity to earn money and learn more about your adopted country.

7. Write for Travel Sites

You're probably already keeping a journal or diary of your time abroad — why not get paid for it? There are a number of travel sites and other publications that are always looking for well-written pieces on travel destinations. And don't assume that your writing will only find a home in a travel-specific website. There are often regional publications or other sites that would welcome your work.

In addition, you could also start your own blog. No one is claiming that blogging is a quick way to make big bucks, but a student living abroad has plenty of stories to write about, and it's easy to place ads on your blog. Blogspot, WordPress, and Tumblr are all places you can easily start a blog that you can monetize. (See also: 5 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money Blogging)

Considerations for Student Workers Studying Abroad

It's not enough to just land your job while you're studying. You also need to be aware of the financial and logistical concerns of your work.

In particular, make sure you have a visa that will allow you to work, even if you are working for cash. Also, remember that the currency exchange rate can affect just how far your money will go, especially if you are earning American money (as a blogger or freelancer might). Make sure you know how the conversion rate will affect your spending power, and know the costs of exchanging money when you withdraw money locally from your American bank.

Finally, there is some good news for any student working for a foreign employer: You will owe no U.S. taxes on anything you earn under $101,300 as of 2016. You still have to pay local taxes on your wages, but Uncle Sam will let you keep all that is left.

Working and Studying Abroad

In general, the most valuable experiences you will have during your time abroad will happen outside of the classroom. Finding a way to earn money while you study is not only a savvy financial move, but it will also add depth and richness to your time in another country.

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