top of page
  • Nyamal

How I Studied Abroad in Seoul As A Broke College Student

Me in Gyeongju, South Korea

Hey y’all!

My name is Nyamal and I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea, during the fall 2021 semester. Below I briefly detail how I afforded my study abroad program. My goal was to earn $12,000 in scholarships to cover the full cost of my program and earn $5,000 for living and travel expenses while in Korea. I was told by different advisors and students who’ve studied abroad that $3000-$5000 is a safe amount of money to take abroad but no less than $2000 in Korea.

I aimed for the higher end of that range to feel financially secure when I went abroad and also so my pockets wouldn’t hate me when I got back. However, I could have lived in Korea just fine at the lower end of that range with careful budgeting. I hope this post will give some of y’all the confidence to take those first steps to explore studying abroad or serve as a resource for y’all looking into different study abroad programs.

Korean won N Gatluak


The majority of my funding came from scholarships. One of the first scholarships I applied for and received was the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman Scholarship is one of the more competitive scholarships.

It’s funded and run by the U.S. government and they award a substantial amount of funding to students who qualify for and receive Pell Grant funding. I initially was awarded $3000, but it increased to $4000 because of supplemental emergency response funding from the government due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, the amount each recipient receives may vary.

My university also had a dedicated scholarship portal for study abroad programs that I was able to fill out. After completing a short application and explaining how studying abroad would benefit my educational and career goals, my university matched and awarded me several scholarships totaling up to $6,500.

I was thankful that the annual scholarships I got from my university’s financial aid office also went towards my study abroad program, which helped me reach my goal of earning $12,000 in scholarships. If you’re considering studying abroad, speak to your advisor to ensure that your annual financial aid goes toward your study abroad expenses, as this depends on the school and program!

Part-Time & Full-Time Jobs

Aside from scholarships, I worked part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer. It was difficult to save money during the school year because I had bills to pay and most of my money would go towards rent, utilities, etc. But, over the summer, I was able to save around $4400 for my program.

My piggy bank

Piggy Bank

I am a person who hates carrying cash. Whenever I have it, I either spend it or forget it in a random bag of mine. When I decided that I wanted to study abroad, I started being more intentional about my spending and where I was storing my money. I started putting any bills or coins in a piggy bank when I got home to prevent me from spending or misplacing my money. I did this for a year and saved about $600.

If you’ve made it to the end, I appreciate you <3. If there’s anything else you want to know about how I afforded my study abroad program or study abroad related questions in general, please leave a comment!

Take care,


117 views0 comments
bottom of page