Written by Aarushi Thakur Rana, Student Engagement Officer in Careers and Placements. Having been an international student herself, Aarushi has first-hand experience of the challenges faced by international students settling into life in a new country. Here are her five tips that can help international students with the current financial crisis:
Find an opportunity with Aston University’s JobShop
Getting experience outside the classroom in the real world of work shows potential employers that you have gone beyond your academic studies to gain employability skills. In a competitive job market, work experience is highly valued and could be the deciding factor between you landing a role or not.
A paid part-time job not only helps boost your CV but can also boost your bank balance while you’re studying. Employers across the region offer flexible opportunities that you can fit around your studies and commitments. This will not only help you gain work experience which can later help you land your dream job but will also help you financially. Please be aware that your visa may restrict the number of hours you are able to work alongside your studies, so please check this before accepting any part-time role. Read More.
Cook your meals at home
Nothing beats a healthy home-cooked meal. Planning your meals is a way to eat well without breaking the bank. You are also less likely to pick up overpriced ready meals or buy food that you’ll struggle to use before it expires.
You can start by buying cheaper groceries through apps like Too Good to Go, Karma and Olio. These apps aim to reduce food waste by offering fresh but unsold food at a discounted price. Some apps help you with recipes if you are learning how to cook by yourself such as Kitche.
Consider going to supermarkets if you want to do some heavy grocery shopping as they offer competitive prices. You should also shop around and check supermarkets for their value/basic ranges.
Recipes, like the ones on Save the Student, can help you decide what to cook on a budget. There are ideas to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for under £3 per day. Or you could use it as a guideline to work out an ideal meal plan. There are some amazing recipes on BBC Food too. Their budget recipes, costed across four supermarkets, are £1 a portion when used with our low-cost store cupboard.
It is also a good idea to prepare your meals with a friend to avoid wastage and having the company of friends always makes the meal special.
Use discounts where possible
Always carry your student identity card when you are going out shopping or when you are at a restaurant. You can get student discounts for public transport (Bus, Metro and Train), to eat at a restaurant and to even buy clothes from your favourite brands. UNiDAYS is a discount website that is available for free to students. Make sure to sign up with your Aston ID and unveil the world of discounts. It might also be worth adding links to TOTUM and Student Beans, which are similar student discount providers.
Use other apps like TopGiftCards that offers gift cards that are available to buy for your friends and family, or even for yourself to get cashback! You can then earn cashback on the value of that gift card. For example, if you bought a gift card with £20 credit on it for a brand offering 5% cashback, you would get £1 cashback tracked back to your account.
Getting involved with focus groups/surveys
The Careers and Placements team often organise focus groups to help improve their service and communications, as well as many other departments within the university. These focus groups are a great way to share your views and opinions, while also potentially being paid for your time.
Buy second-hand books and clothes
Use the library services where possible and always see what books you can borrow before you start purchasing course materials. Buying textbooks second-hand is a sustainable way of reducing course costs, especially if you’re only going to use the textbook for just one module. You can even sell it again when you’re finished with it, be environmentally friendly and save some pounds.
For clothes consider charity shops, eBay, Vinted and Facebook marketplace that offer fashionable clothes for affordable prices. These places not only offer the option to buy clothes, but you can also sell on these sites to get some handy cash.