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How To: Make Friends in Korea

Have you seen my last article? You can check it out here. As always, a large portion of your questions can be answered by going to my list of resources page here, or the contact page here. There are article-specific resources at the bottom of the page.

I love and advocate for solo travel, especially by millennials when at all possible, though one does have to recognize the unique barriers to entry that millennials, however, the hardest part of traveling alone is building a support system and a life that has meaningful relationships in it. Once the excitement wears off, being in Korea can be really tough if you don't make friends. Luckily for you, through trial error, I've learned some (almost) foolproof ways to make new friends while you are in Korea. While a few of these tips are generalizable, some of them are Korea-specific. Just remember if you're feeling really lonely, reach out to someone! You'll be surprised how compassionate people are, especially in your time …

The M*ney One [Part Two]: The Other Options

If you have not seen part one of "The M*ney One" you can check it out here, and if you have not seen my last post you can check it out here. You can also see the Ultimate List of Resources here.

   Let's talk a little bit more about the money before you get to your destination. Some of my friends mentioned that there were a few other options for paying for your study abroad program that I did not cover in part one of this series. This was intentional, as they are options that may not be great for your financial health in the long term and they depend on other people, which is never your best bet. So for the record, I cannot suggest these methods.

1. Applying for a Personal Loan (How to Be in Debt... but Make it Fashion?)
   I... really tried to find logical reasons why you should take out a personal loan to fund your study abroad trip, but I just really can not suggest it. As crucial as I think it is for millennials to travel, it is way more valuable to spend some extra time really saving than to go into debt. To quote my mom, who has given me not only the best financial advice but also the best advice in general: "If you don't have, go without." This is not an idea that should be used for everything necessarily, but is a practice that can be used more often for larger purchases, and forces you to see your options for certain things. Of course, there are scenarios for which you need to go into debt to cover the basics like if you haven't been working and need a new set of tires, but at the end of the day, a study abroad trip is completely optional and therefore can be opted out of. If you do not have the funds to go this year, strongly consider going next year. I truly understand the FOMO, but the year of saving will teach you a lot about the true costs of things and give you some super valuable financial skills. There's always more than one way to do something, so if you find booking something outside of your school or exchange program is cheaper, do that and never be ashamed to lead your own path. Definitely, don't go into debt trying to pay for this trip only to regret it later unless you absolutely have to.
   The only "if" for using a personal loan, and it's a big "if", is this: If you believe that you will be able to make sizeable payments on the loan while abroad, or we be receiving a large pay increase when you return, then a personal loan may be a feasible option for you. Realistically, if you're still in school you won't be getting a large pay increase, so that means that you should try to find work while you're abroad. A lot of the side hustles I mentioned in part one of this series are jobs you can legally do while abroad on a student visa, have flexible hours, and usually pay through PayPal for easy transfer. I have a post coming on remote jobs abroad/side hustles shortly.
    Another scenario in which a personal loan may be appropriate is if you are paying for your study abroad program in installments and just need the last one or two payments and the bare minimum for spending money. Sometimes, things happen which cause liquid money to become... not so liquid, and if you've already made two or three payments on your study abroad program, it doesn't make sense to lose the payments you've already made and not be able to go on the trip. In this scenario, I would get a refund and put it in savings toward going on the trip next year if I can, and if not, I would get the smallest personal loan available to cover the rest.
   All in all, only under very desperate and unavoidable circumstances should you take out a personal loan to cover an optional study abroad trip. If you do take a personal loan out, however, try to get the loan from a smaller bank like a credit union for the smallest interest rates (negotiate!) and be sure to pay down as much as possible while you're abroad. If you're not making much while away, just be sure to pay off all interests accrued to at the very least you're left with just the principal balance upon return.






2. Fundraising/Go Fund Me (Finally! How To Get Money From Strangers Without Doing Any Foot Stuff for Some Guy Named David Who Pronounces it Da-Veed)
   I know I come across as a very proud person (because... I am), but if I could get free money from strangers without writing any essays, submitting transcripts, or doing anything morally questionable? I would gladly take them up on it. Sites like Go Fund Me, Raise.Me, and Kickstarter are all great opportunities for both blind philanthropy as well as direct action, but aside from the questionable practices of Go Fund Me that may raise suspicion from those who are donating to you as well as the unreasonable percentage they take from either you or those who donate to you, the fundamental issue is the impracticality of expecting to raise enough to cover the entire cost of a study abroad trip.
   If you have the trip itself covered and you just want some spending money, or you have just one installment payment left, crowd-raising is probably a feasible idea, but hoping that you'll crowd-raise $10k+ just from the kindness of people's hearts is impractical. That doesn't mean it won't happen for you (and I really hope it does), but it should not be used as a first choice plan.
  If you really want to use crowd-raising to fund your trip completely, the longer your appeal is on the website and you consistently share updates on the crowd-raising platform and social media, the more money you will receive. For instance, if you know that you will study abroad in Fall of 2019 (it is currently June of 2018), then posting something in June of 2018 in preparation is a super smart way or increasing your chances of fully funding your trip or can supplement whatever you can already afford or have put aside. The longer you have to plan the financials, the better. Instead of using a crowd-raising site, I would suggest appealing directly to family and friends that you know will give, and use PayPal or the Cash app which won't charge you anything if you transfer the money in one business day rather than instantly. The likelihood of strangers randomly giving you hundreds of dollars? Not very high at all, though it absolutely does happen! Sending direct messages on social media, making a Facebook or Instagram post and linking a Venmo/Cash App/PayPal account, or better yet, calling family and friends directly is your best bet for getting some cash or a check. It's a little nerve-wracking (I hate phone calls too) but is a great way to get some money fast. Use that pathos!
   If you need just a few more dollars, or just want to pad your pocket money a little more for your trip I would say to go for it, crowd-raising is a great way to tell your story and solicit donations in a large way that gets to your target audience (that aunt that said my graduation check was in the mail but I graduated two years ago and nothing). The issue with using crowd-raising platforms as your predominant method of funding your study abroad, however, is that it is far too risky of an expectation.

I understand that often times, especially for millennial travelers the wanderlust and the financials aren't completely compatible. Sometimes you just want to scream fuck it, but ruining your financial health, in the long run, can not only prevent you from freedom in many aspects of your life but also tarnish the memories you have of your trip.
For part three of "The Money One" I will finally discuss some of the most important things to remember while spending abroad including l tips for using credit cards while abroad, budgeting resources as well as an example budget for one semester or a year abroad.

Good Luck!
Myaia

Thumbnail image is by Artem Bali on Unsplash

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