Today I’d be talking more about how to save money during the course of exchange and more specifically regarding the time that you’d be spending in your university. This is Part II of my Exchange guide, the first one is about exchange travelling tips so if you haven’t read it already, do so now!
1. Plan your travelling wisely
I know this sounds so obnoxiously vague, but it really isn’t. This tip is the top of my list because it teaches you to prioritize. With a limited amount of money like most people, surely you won’t think of travelling to every single country/city in Europe. You have to choose which one you want to visit, and why. For me, I haven’t been to Europe before so I wanted to visit the “mainstream” cities or rather popular tourists destinations. Obscure hipster cities can wait.
So, what do you want to achieve out of this trip? What do you want to see and experience the most?
During my exchange, I’ve been to several capitals of the major European countries such as Paris, Rome, Madrid, London, Athens, Berlin etc, which was my main travel goal for this exchange 🙂
Me being the ultimate tourist at the ultimate tourist spot in Paris LOL
2. For getting around, invest in a bicycle
For most parts, I think the exchange universities are typically located in a small university town or on the outer suburbs. It’d be wise to buy a secondhand bike, or even a cheap firsthand one like I did to save on public transport. You can always sell it off before you leave, as there is perpetual demand in the student market for bicycles. For me, I bought a cheap firsthand bike for 1600+ SEK, I managed to sell it for 1000 SEK so it was equivalent to my friends buying a secondhand bike for 500, 600+ SEK. Explore your choices wisely. If the bikes look too rundown, you might need to send it for repairs halfway through and that may end up costing even more than a new bike.
Also, bike theft is very common so be sure to invest in a sturdy lock to protect your bike!
In Lund, public transport is about SGD $4 per trip flat so the price is pretty hefty and I didn’t have much choice but to buy a bike. I only cycled twice before I left for exchange, so I avoided cycling during periods of snow and slippery roads and kept indoors or took the bus. But the bike still served me well for about 4 months.
Plus they make for a cute OOTD prop!
3. Cook. (Very, very regularly)
In most places, it is often cheaper to cook than to eat out on a regular basis. Plus you get to cook proper Singapore/Chinese/Asian food that is authentic and cheap.
LOL IS MY REP GONE FOREVER HAHAHAHA
Ok lah I just wanted to post this cause I look super toot in my long john top and GAP sweatpants (which I sadly threw away at the airport fml) with my Hello Kitty socks and hotel slippers Gab kop from dk where one! Hahaha whenever I look at this pic I burst out laughing LOL. But really it was super frikin cold when we first arrived – such a temperature shock for me that I was still shivering under my down jacket and all. Now back in SG I don’t even need to bring out my cardigan anymore. I used to wear a cardigan all the time whenever I’m at places with air conditioning.
Showing off the awesome yu sheng that I managed to make for our CNY gathering with the fellow SMU peeps! 🙂
4. Find out which supermarket is the cheapest
Coop is actually the most expensive supermarket in Lund LOL.
For my accommodation, I’m a 15 min walk/5 min bike ride away from three supermarkets and one of the shopping areas. Luckily for me, one of them (City Gross) is considered one of the “cheaper” supermarkets. By choosing to do most of our grocery shopping there, we actually ended up saving quite a bit! Sometimes we’d also look out for promotions because other supermarkets may be cheaper during promotions. Definitely shop around for groceries. Another tip: bundled/pre-packaged vegetables are almost always more expensive than loose vegetables, so go for those that can be bought according to weight!
You can tell that this was one of our first few grocery runs hahaha
Some of the Asian markets also offer cheap vegetables that go by weight so you can buy according to your needs. Definitely ask seniors or locals for suggested grocery places. Also, look out for expiry dates because you don’t want to buy something that’s gonna spoil in three days.
5. Go frozen
At cheap supermarkets, be another level of #cheapo by going for frozen meat and vegetables! Not only is it much cheaper than fresh ones, they can last longer so you can prevent wastage attributed to rotting. ICA Basic Kycklingfile (chicken filets) was our go-to choice for protein during our entire exchange. We changed it up with some ICA Lax file (salmon filets) as well hahahaha. The Kycklingfile cost like 42 KR (approx 7 SGD) and there’s like at least 6 pieces inside. 4 frozen salmon filets cost about 79 KR (approx 13 SGD). For the two of us, we’d cook one filet per meal regardless of the type. Thinking about it we actually ate damn little so Idk how I gained weight T.T
Go one step further by calculating down to the price/g if you want to be #cheapo like us hahaha.
6. Look out for eateries with pizza
For all the countries that we’ve visited so far, I realized that pizza is a relatively cheap dining option. It is nearly the same price as a Macs meal for one in Lund! The portions and toppings are generous as well, and you can definitely share for 2 so it’s really value for money.
7. Take advantage of student discounts
Some eateries and even salons offer student discounts so make sure to flash your student ID! I saw a salon offering 20% off for students. The studentkortet from Lund University has discounts in some local stores as well as online shops (they had an offer for DW watches too!) Sometimes you can also get discount on travelling options too.
8. Shop for home brands because they’re cheaper. WAY cheaper!
Sweden is the home of H&M, Cheap Monday, Nudie jeans, Monki etc etc.
I managed to snag my trusty skinny jeans at SGD $18 from Cheap Monday at the Weekday store in Malmo during their sale season. Jeans were going off 100 KR only, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!! The price difference at H&M isn’t that big as it’s pretty international so I think price standardization is in place. (Read about shopping in Malmo here)
I went crazy at Bik Bok (I think it’s a Norwegian brand) because it’s like a Scandinavian Forever 21, so it was pretty young and cheap! The skirt I’m wearing in the pic above is from Bik Bok and I got it for 99 KR (about 15 SGD). Sale items can go down to 49 KR!
9. Go thrift shopping
This is especially useful if you don’t have an IKEA near you, and you need to purchase some houseware items or decor items. Plus you never know what you might find!
This secondhand shop is the most memorable one for me among the many scattered around Lund, because it’s so dingy and… old? LOL
10. Utilize platforms to sell off stuff that you bought
For me, I joined the Buy/Sell stuff in Lund group and managed to sell off my bike and my decor stuff through this group! It’s a pretty large group with around 8000 members so you’d be sure that you can sell at least some of your stuff! If your exchange university has something like this, be sure to join it! You can not only sell off things you bought for this semester but also snag some good deals!
That’s all I can think of right now. I hope this guide helped those of you going for exchange 🙂 I will most likely be doing a few more posts about exchange so keep a look out!