Whilst preparing to embark on my year abroad I needed to take a good long look at my financial situation. Whilst Student Finance England and the money I had saved up would cover my bursar bills for the most part, I knew I wasn’t out of the deep end just yet when it came to funding my time here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I knew I couldn’t be mooching off my parents and relying on the love they had for their only daughter in order to fund my travels around America.
So, I decided to get a job whilst out here, one which I kept for the majority of the year. Overall, I’d say it served me well. I got a job as a Student Caller with the Annual Fund (anyone coming to UMass, look them up). This required me to work three shifts a week calling alumni and parents asking them to donate money to the university. The pay was $11 per hour the first semester and $12 the second, so when it came to travelling I had a decent chunk of change to go with. I found it a great atmosphere to work in and the people I met there were great and so welcoming. It was definitely a worthwhile experience.
For anyone thinking of getting a job on their year abroad, here are some things to think about. Start looking early if you can. That way you can start to get an idea of what’s available on campus (this is the easiest place to work). Don’t know where to look? Look for job boards online before you go as they’ll be posting vacancies for the upcoming academic semester. If you don’t know where to look get in touch with someone from the university and they’ll point you in the right direction. Once on campus I’d recommend applying early. That way you can choose from a wider variety of jobs before they go and you can get your pick of the shifts available (also you’ll start earning money sooner, which means more to spend later!) Check how many hours you are allowed to work on your visa so you don’t accidentally work more than you should and get in trouble. I worked just under 12 hours a week but here in America you can work 20 hours a week on campus on a J-1 visa during the semester and 40 hours during breaks. Save up your money if you can. It’s a great way to provide you with the funds to make the most of your free time. I used my income to fund my travelling throughout the year and this is something I’d highly recommend others to do as well.
Really engage with the experience. It’s a great way to meet people from the country instead of staying in an international student bubble. Finally, really make the most of the time you have abroad. It goes by really fast, so don’t waste it.
Written by Isabelle Currie – University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA