Before you go, or before you even consider going abroad, you should make sure that you have done enough research and 'number-crunching' about the costs related to your experience abroad.
McMaster University has limited funding available to assist eligible outbound exchange students and to eligible students participating in independent Work, Study, Intern, Teach and Volunteer Abroad opportunities. For more information, visit McMaster's International Student Services office (Gilmour Hall, Room 110, Ext. 24254) or the Office of Student Financial Aid & Scholarships (Gilmour Hall, Room 120 / Ext. 24319). Assess the options available to you.
Students studying in an approved formal student exchange program may be entitled to receive assistance when studying abroad through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). Contact McMaster's Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships to discuss your study abroad initiatives and OSAP eligibility criteria. This is the only office on-campus that can provide accurate information about your financial aid options.
International Education Information Aid has a comprehensive online searchable database on financial aid for students interested in studying abroad. Canada Student Loans Programs, as part of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, promotes "accessibility to post-secondary education by lowering financial barriers through the provision of loans and grants for Canadians with a demonstrated financial need."
The Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) administers a range of awards on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The following awards are offered to Canadians:
- Canada-China Scholars' Exchange Program
Awards available to Canadians for study in China
- Commonwealth Scholarship Plan
Awards available to Canadians for study in Commonwealth countries
- Foreign Government Awards Program
Awards available to Canadians for study in other foreign countries
- Organization of American States (OAS) Fellowships Programs
Awards available to Canadians for studies and research in an OAS member state
- Organization of American States (OAS) Professional Development Scholarships Program
Invitation for Canadian institutions to offer courses
Visit http://www.scholarships.gc.ca/opportunitiescdn-possibilitescdn-eng.aspx to learn more about Graduate Level Scholarships for Canadian Students to conduct research and study internationally.
CBIE also administers the Export Development Canada (EDC) International Business Scholarships Program. If you are a Canadian student studying business/commerce at the undergraduate level and interested in international trade, please visit: www.edc.ca/english/student_scholarships.htm.
For information on CBIE services - Scholarship Management, please visit International Education Services.
The CIDA: Canadian International Development Agency provides several awards, internship programs and funding for development projects abroad.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD ) is the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation. It provides financial funding and programs for students, faculty, researchers and others in higher education. DAAD has a flexible scholarship program which offers short-term scholarships for participation in summer study abroad, internships, senior thesis research or summer courses at German universities and long-term scholarships for a semester or year study abroad. DAAD has an information centre in Canada:
Dr. Stefan Haas
DAAD Information Centre Toronto
163 King Street West
Toronto , Ontario M5H 4C6
Tel: (416) 926-2308
Money is a medium of exchange for goods and services you will purchase and receive during your stay abroad. As a result, money demonstrates extrinsic value that takes a variety of appearances. The forms of money that are used when abroad may include:
Cash - where you travel will decide whether you can use Canadian dollars, or if you should purchase the exchange country's currency.
Traveler's cheques - are often used as a substitute for cash and as a method to avoid the exchange of money once you arrive in the foreign country. Traveler's cheques can be purchased at your nearest bank preceding your departure.
Credit cards – prior to your departure; it is your responsibility to find out if the Host country accepts credit cards as a form of payment. Read the cardholder agreement to fully understand your card's capabilities. If you have additional questions, call a customer service representative as he/she will be able to answer all of your questions. If you decide to use a credit card overseas be sure that you are aware of, and understand the exchange rate at the time of the transaction. This will ensure that you do not exceed your prescribed card limit. Lastly, you may wish to purchase extra traveler's insurance available through some credit card companies.
If you have a credit or debit card that is on a network, you should be able to withdraw money from your Canadian bank account via a bank machine in the host country. For more information, ask your bank.
If your bank does not offer the abovementioned service, you may want to consider opening a foreign bank account; the advantages of it will depend on the host country and the duration of your stay. For example, it may result in fast and convenient money withdrawals, with low service charges. Inquire about the options available to you, so that you make a sensible decision.
Similar to your country of origin, you must be cautious about where you decide to use your bank card. Identity frauds and card copying machines are proliferating all over the world. Become an informed citizen and learn more from the Consumer Measures Committee.
It is vital that you engage in forethought as a precautionary measure, especially when it concerns your financial obligations. In order to have an accurate estimation of the cost of living, (example: rent, food, activities etc) supplementary research is required. As such, consider the following expenses:
- Tuition and Fees
- Internet, Postage, Telephone, Fax
- Food and Personal Items
- Health Insurance and Medical expenses
- Local Transportation
- Travel, entertainment and gifts
Furthermore before leaving, check with your current Canadian bank on how an emergency money transfer would be processed, in case you need one. For a list of banks around the world, visit the AAA Dir World Banks.
Consider the following budgeting tips:
- make rational weekly budgets
- expect to spend more money in the first week of your arrival compared to subsequent weeks
- acquire a International Student Identification Card (ISIC) for additional discounts
- look for less expensive alternatives, and cook for yourself when possible
- shop in local street markets for local goods
- purchase transportation passes that offer discounts on multiple-day bus or train travel
- stay in youth hostels
- be cautious of pick-pocketing
- travel overnight and sleep on the train to avoid accommodation charges
Finally, before leaving, check the value of the Canadian dollar in the destination country, or in any other country you may transit through in your journey. The Universal Currency Converter is very a useful resource. For any international bank transaction, always take into consideration the time zones.