Save on Study Abroad, WWOOF Instead

I can’t stay in one place much. Maybe my heart can’t stay in one place, my body has certainly been living at home with my parents on and off for four years. Nik and I have come up with four ways to travel the world so far: short-term study abroad in a small town, long-term study abroad in a major city, WWOOFing (“World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms”) and TEFL (“Teach English as a Foreign Language” Nik is learning all about that now!). My aspiration is to travel the world for two years straight, with three months of Eurorailing, on a budget, with a small photography income. I’ve started researching for this trip and thought I would go over what I have learned in my years so far.

Summer study abroad

 

  • Cost: $6500 for airfare, tuition and housing. $500 for extra excursions/food/emergencies. Paid for with student loans (I’m lucky I could take them out, but I’m still paying them off now).
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A group dinner at a vineyard outside of Pisciotta

  • I got all the pros of traveling in a group — no planning day trips, no discovering that the train on the other platform is the last one of the night AND the one I’m supposed to be on. 10+ people to befriend, no “wasted” travel days when it rains because I’m in the same town for a while and hey I can just do some homework or play drinking games in a friend’s apartment. No “wasted” time (I don’t like the word wasted, everything is a lesson learned/a new opportunity but it fits best here) in small cities that could have been day instead of week trips. When planning my solo trip, I got swept up in the idea of visiting the dreamy white city of Ostuni after reading a Young Adventuress blog post — she spent a summer day there, I spent a rainy spring week. After two days of seeing “the sights” (one church, a historical museum, a movie theater) I filled my time with writing, drawing and talking to locals. Not bad, just not what I was expecting. Back to the group, you’ll be a rowdy ______ (American) tourist and have to stick with the group 90% of the time. Our third day into the trip I snuck out of the hotel in Rome alone at 5 a.m. to take the subway to the Villa Borghese gardens and made it back in time for our group continental breakfast. Maybe tell a buddy where you’re going before you sneak away.

If you’re ready to jump but need a hand to hold this is the way to go, baby steps.

WWOOFing

 

  • Cost:
    • $1500 for airfaredon’t buy your flight last minute!
    • $750 on transportation within ItalyI went across the county twice, once by bus, once by three of the smallest, slowest trains and a bus; from Florence south and back up north 2x; took cabs to get from major cities to country towns and a handful of $5 bus rides to get around local towns. Italian trains will be messed up if it’s a holiday or a holiday weekend, tickets will be more and you’ll wait all day for an open reservation. I tried to travel out of Florence during the Easter weekend in 2015 and decided it was easier to postpone my train-trip two days. There is a car sharing app, like a less-regulated uber meets craiglist to save gas and money.
    • $500 on Airbnbs in cities I visited between farmsFlorence/Ostuni/Matera. Airbnbs mean a chance to make friends with local people, if you rent out a room or floor in a shared apartment. Hostels mean you make friends from all over the world. Airbnbs where what I knew and I’m comfortable being alone, this was my baby step. But they definitely get lonely. In Ostuni I was by myself, in a cold cave-like apartment for a week. In Matera, I had the top floor of a beautiful flat with a helpful, kind Italian man below, three cats and a family on the other side of town that fed me dinner every night.
    • $500 on food/groceries/eating out/drinks
    • Paid for with a year of waitressing and babysitting
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My Airbnb in Matera

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Nik in Florence

  • WWOOFing for three months was cheaper than a semester of college. For me it meant freedom to see part of the world and to find happiness within myself again. The pros are free housing and food (in exchange for working half or most-of the day) and living with a family (aka learning all families are loving and crazy, even yours back home). I learned my parents are individuals with their own flaws, problems and dreams; that America although full of racism, sexism and class-ism still means opportunity for so many people; the world does see Americans as entitled, irresponsible and ignorant in that we aren’t fulfilling all the potential we have to make the world a better place as a “superpower. We say there are no jobs or opportunities for advancement in the US, but in Italy people have to leave the country to find work, here Starbucks is always hiring (a pro of a corporation-ruled economy).

WWOOFing means a chance to see what life is like for someone else, whether you do it for three days or three months.

Eurorail and . . .

 

  • Cost: $1557+ for 3 months. Paid for with one year of adulting with multiple jobs
  • My plan is to stay with friends in England, France, Germany and Italy to save money, couchsurf, make most of my itinerary in advance and after train-hopping throughout Europe, teach English in South America
  • I’ve heard that: you can sleep on the trains, inter-city trains require reservations, if you’re traveling mostly in Eastern and Southern Europe or with a set itinerary it’s cheaper to buy train tickets from those companies directly. Have you Eurorail-ed? Is one season better to train hop than the other? Have you WWOOFed for more than 3 months? Have you taught English abroad for a year?

I have ten months to plan for two years! I declared my major only a year before I graduated, this will take commitment and another jump.

 

Catch Ya Later,

Caryn

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