POGGI | The Hidden Costs of Studying Abroad

I cannot open my bank app. Like ripping off a Band-Aid or pulling a hangnail, I know I must, but the thought makes me feel queasy. There are a lot of things that people prepared me for before going abroad: from currency exchange to a lack of dryers in Italy. But no one prepared me for the financial cost of going abroad beyond standard tuition.

My only real grievance with Cornell is an “abroad fee” added to my bursar bill in excess of $4000. I have no idea where that goes or why I need to pay that in addition to my program fee. However, while some programs are similar or even less than Cornell’s tuition in cost, the real kicker is in the lifestyle. No one is forcing you to eat out or travel internationally or shop for souvenirs, but there is an urgency to take advantage of the opportunity — after all, when will I have four months to live in Italy without the stresses of adulthood? Many, if not most, Cornell students end up spending thousands in extra lifestyle costs while abroad, a fee that may shock them after five semesters spent in Ithaca, where it is comparatively hard to rack up such exorbitant bills.

At college, you either have a meal plan, apartment/dorm kitchen or Greek life/co-op housing with food provided. Studying abroad, one often finds themselves eating out for at least one meal a day. With the allure of a new city and cuisine, the unparalleled convenience of cafés near school buildings and the possible lack of kitchen or prepping supplies in abroad accommodations, eating out becomes the rule rather than the exception.