Choosing to go overseas always come with out of pocket expenses. There are program fees, accommodation fees, daily living expenses, excursion costs and so on. But finances should be the last thing that holds you back from an international internship in Latin America.
Research is the number one tool that will aid in preparing a budget for an international internship. One of the largest factors is your destination. That’s why choosing to intern in Latin America is an excellent choice. With a variety of internship programs, diverse geography, and low-cost of living, Latin America proves it can be a perfect match for anyone interning abroad on a budget.
This guide will give you tips on how to prepare before your internship abroad and insight on how you can save while away. If you’ve been considering an international internship but don’t know how to get started, keep reading! By the time you complete this article, you’ll have the confidence you need to move forward with a life-changing decision.
As you might know, choosing to intern abroad isn’t as easy as packing your bags and taking off for several weeks. There’s a lot of preparation to be done. You’re especially going to need to pay close attention to your finances to ensure you’re budgeting correctly. So, here’s tip number one:
Research Your Options
After choosing your dream destination for an internship abroad, you must research. Research the cost of basic necessities in the city you’ll be staying. Don’t assume a general budget just because things will be cheaper. How much cheaper will they be? Did you consider expenses such as food, toiletries, and transportation? You don’t want to end up overpaying for a taxi ride just because you weren’t aware of the actual cost. Also, doing your research will give you more insight into what a realistic budget would look like for your out of pocket expenses while in-country.
On another note, research comes in handy when considering your internship program costs. Consider different options available to you without sacrificing an internship placement that aligns with your career goals. Remember that scholarships and grants also apply to international internships. You might even get creative and start a fundraiser to help cover these costs.
Choose an Affordable Program
Having an international internship placement coordinated for you takes time and resources, so it’s standard to have to pay a program fee when you intern abroad. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be paying an entire semester’s tuition for a 4-week internship program. A good rule of thumb is to pro-rate a semester’s tuition into the number of weeks you’ll be participating in an international internship. For example, if a standard semester is 16-weeks, and your tuition is about $8,000, then the program fees for a 4-week internship abroad can fairly be gauged at $2,000.
Many international internships vary in what’s included in your program fees. Luckily, Maximo Nivel makes things really simple. Program fees for all international internships also include host family accommodations, two meals per day, airport pick-up, Spanish classes, a letter of recommendation upon successful completion, and so much more.
Start a Travel Savings Account
As soon as you make the decision to intern abroad, make sure to open a travel savings account. It doesn’t have to be an official account with a bank, either. Just make sure you have a safe place to put aside money for this venture, specifically.
Look at your budget now. Maybe you have a part-time job, or you get a weekly allowance. Try to save at least 10% of your money until it’s time to leave. You can bump it up to 20% if you feel you have less time to save up before your international internship. Note that this savings is for your daily expenses and excursions and should not be touched until you get overseas.
Budgeting and planning don’t stop once you’re in your chosen destination. In fact, it’s even more imperative to stick to your budget while away. Here are some helpful tips on how you can maintain your bank account.
Track Your Spending
Know where every cent is going. Writing down every expense helps you to visually keep track of your spending and how much you have left. At the end of the week, you can easily determine whether you’re still on track with the budget you created before leaving. It’s important to have fun and enjoy your time abroad while interning, but you don’t want to be caught without any spending money with 2 weeks left of your internship.
Interning abroad isn’t a luxury vacation at an all-inclusive resort. During your international internship, you get to live and work among locals, so act like it. Instead of taking a taxi to your internship placement in Antigua, Guatemala, use the local chicken bus. Maybe you can opt-out of the fancier tourist-friendly cafes in Cusco, Peru and choose to lunch on a typical menu option. Not only will you save money, but you’ll be experiencing a new country and city like a local while fully immersing yourself in the culture.
Plan Your Bucket-List Destinations
Planning your bucket-list destinations ahead of time will remove those expenses immediately from your budget so you don’t spend it beforehand. These excursions will likely be the costliest of your budget, but they’ll be well worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’ve chosen to intern in Costa Rica, you might dedicate a weekend to visit La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano. If you’re interning in Guatemala, consider visiting Semuc Champey, and if you’re in Peru, of course, Machu Picchu is a must.
Whatever you need to be ticked off your bucket list, make it a priority. You can choose to go at it on your own (though this might prove difficult), book with any of the travel agencies in the area or you can choose to book directly through Maximo Nivel’s trusted travel partners.
No matter which phase of your life you’re in, budgeting is important. Budgeting for your internships abroad will certainly instill values that will go far. It’s never about the amount of money you have, but rather what you choose to do with that money. When you do your research and prepare accordingly, any goal you set will be attainable. So, don’t tell yourself interning abroad is out of your range. Start saving now and consider all your options carefully. Because as a wise man once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” – Mark Twain