May 25, 2011

In Denial.

I am excited to go abroad, I really am. But for some reason I cannot get my head around it. I have about two weeks till I depart and I still do not feel like I am going. My denial is not benefiting me as I have a million things to do before I go, such as get my finances in order. I also have to get my car fixed, do laundry, print things out, start packing, get a hold of my travel agent, and so on. As you can see this is a long list and I know I am forgetting something.

One of my best friends just got back from studying abroad in Belgium this past semester and she had similar feelings before she left as well. Is this something all travelers get. Is traveling or going abroad just so exciting it is not comprehensible? I think it should be called traveler's denial, because somehow I feel I am not alone in this.

On a different note, over the weekend I got to show Rochester to my friend from Denver. I took her to the famous Lilac Festival, that occurs around mid-May every year. I love the festival because I just love the overwhelming smell of lilacs and of course getting my annual garbage plate.

Behold the garbage plate, a Rochester staple. A plate of home fries, baked beans, macaroni salad, your choice of hot dog or hamburger (you get a white hot if you are a true Rochestarian), and of course smothered in hot meat sauce. Yum.

Now some of you may be confused as I was recently a pescitarian. Well because I am going to South American and do not want to miss out on a huge part of the culture, meat, I have decided to return to being an omnivore, until I get back to the states anyway.

My two favorite pictures I took at the festival. I am still trying to figure out my new Nikon P100. It is no professional camera, but complicated enough for me to not know what all the settings do or what the shutter speed does. But I mean for an amature photographer, I think I am doing all right. :)

Please wish me luck as I try to get my life in order this next coming weeks!


May 18, 2011

Money, Money, Money....MONEY

So I have 23 days until I depart for South America, which will be my home for the next 6 months. It is somewhat starting to hit me that I am really leaving....very, very soon. I am home from college and have already starting raking up some hours at work to get some extra money for my upcoming trip. I am now beginning to believe there is a direct correlation with my money concerns and my up and coming departure date.

Earlier this week I went to NYC to pick up my visa. I decided to drive down from Rochester and with gas prices the trip cost me a total of $114. Most of the cost was due to the lovely high gas prices, I swear the only other cost I incurred was $3 on a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. I know it was mandatory for me to go down there, but the whole time all I could think about was what I could have spent the money on while abroad.

During the long drive I began thinking of all the things I have paid for so far for this trip, even before I have departed. So I did some calculations.
  • Passport renewal - $135 
  • Advance deposit - $500
  • Visa - $140
  • Round trip plane ticket - $1,592.90 
  • Visa pictures - $12
  • Trip to NYC for visa - $115
  • Flight from ROC to JFK - $90
  • New iPod - $170 (with 10% for my old iPod recycled)
  • Hiking/running shoes - $23 (Trade-in money from my books this semester paid for most of them) 
The grand total comes out to $2,779.90, and I haven't even left yet. I got great news from SU Abroad last week that I have received a $1,000 travel grant, so minus that from the total it comes out still to $1,779.90.

I am not writing this post to scare people from going abroad. I would have spent twice that for my up and coming experience. I just don't think people understand or know all of the "hidden" cost of going abroad and I don't believe abroad programs spell these costs out for students. I believe this sometimes surprises students and parents preparing to go study abroad.

I have paid for 95% of this trip, my mom helped pay for my insurance while there, which came out to be around $235. To tell you the truth I was extremely surprised when I put all the numbers together, who knew I could save or make this much money!!! Already before I have left I have learned an extremely important lesson, saving is possible. Before this trip I did not think I could save anything, and after I got each paycheck I was spending it. I now know the amount of money I am capable of saving and will definitely continue to save once again after I get back.

Now that I have spent almost $3,000 before I have left, I am left with about $550 left in my bank account. This is obviously not enough for 6 months abroad. I hope get up to $1000 from working before I leave, which I think I can get to easily. Then I am using the $1000 I get from SU Abroad travel grant towards living costs. This leaves me about $1000 short of my goal of $3000. I do get a Wegmans scholarship of $750 each semester in August, (another reason why I love Wegmans). So that leaves me $250 short, which I think I am going to ask my family if they can donate to my cause, I plan on paying them back every penny of course!

I really want to pay for this trip completely 100% on my own, I think it will make my experience 100% more meaningful and fulfilling. Now of course Syracuse University is helping me with my tuition costs which comes out to about $30,000 including the program fee, which includes SU tuition, my home stay including full board (3 meals a day), and any trips already planned for us while we are down there.

Hope this helps all future travelers out there! From my experience no one lays out the true costs of travel and I am here to give all the little details of my trip to you guys!