How Much Does It Cost To Live Abroad?

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a student studying abroad in Berlin trying to beat the heat without AC.
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Professional Status: It’s complicated.
Industry: Architecture
Age: 21
Location: NYC native in Berlin
Salary: $15/hour, average, 18 hours per week during the school year. Although, when I explained to my supervisor that I was going on a month-long study-abroad trip, he told me that they wouldn't be able to hold the position for me while I was gone. They advised me to ask about the position when I get back to the states to see if there's "room in the budget" for another intern. But since I've left, they've terminated my email account and sent my last check home, so it doesn't seem like management wants me. It sucks, because I really enjoyed working with my team and I was getting comfortable there.
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): ~$430
# of roommates: I used to have four roommates in a two-bedroom in Harlem, but I’ve since moved back home to Queens, because I got tired of waking up at 6:30 a.m. to beat everyone to the bathroom (among other reasons).
Monthly Expenses
Rent: Berlin Airbnb with 2 others: $560 for my portion. (NYC rent was $365 each.)
Transportation: $95.33 monthly pass
Phone Bill: $30
Health Insurance: $0 — Thanks, mom!
Spotify: $10

Day One

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — Our class takes a field trip to Eberswalder, a small town outside the main city, but within the state of Berlin. We visit a couple of architecturally significant buildings. Then, we are picked up by our professor via the Brandenburg Police School Coach Bus to visit Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp where the police school is located. Food and transportation are all provided by the program.

8 p.m. — Trip to Real, the German equivalent of Target. Pick up cheese, crackers, pasta, pasta sauce, water, apples, jam, Nutella, and chocolate pudding. Yum. Split with the boyfriend, who is also a student in my program. $28.82

8:30 p.m. — We get 500g of bread. $1.32

Daily Total: $30.14

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Toast and raspberry jam from home and the 2 euro “Special Cappuccino” at school, a coffee-and-hot-chocolate combination. $2.22

12:30 p.m. — Mensa (cafeteria) lunch: potatoes, carrots, and a stuffed chicken (yum); chocolate pudding and orange soda. Mensa lunches are paid with a 100-euro prepaid card provided by the school, a.k.a. the program fee.

6 p.m. — Professors want to watch the Germany vs. Ireland match as a class, so we set the projector up in our studio. Professors get the beer, I grab a döner dürüm from the local döner place. $3.33

8 p.m. — After the game, we take a walking trip and see David Chipperfield’s office, among other contemporary urban buildings before grabbing a seat at a café for the Spain vs. Croatia game.

Daily Total: $5.55

Day Three

10:15 a.m. — On our way to a field-trip site and I didn’t have breakfast, so I get a chocolate croissant at the train station. $1.72

1 p.m. — Mensa lunch: Potatoes, squash, and steak patties with mushroom sauce and chocolate pudding. Yum.

7 p.m. — After a long day of classes, I snack on ice cream before the boyfriend gets back and cooks a pasta dinner.

Daily Total: $1.72

Day Four

9 a.m. — Running late on the way to a walking-tour meeting point, so I grab an apple and eat it on the train.

11 a.m. — After two hours of touring what was East Berlin, our group stops for a drink. I get a large orange juice. $4.43

1 p.m. — We finally make it back to school and have a Mensa lunch. Today, I try an Austrian dish that I end up not liking, so I have to get another plate of food. The boyfriend forgot his wallet at the apartment, so I cover him.

7 p.m. — We go out for dinner at Breakers, but end up getting a drink, instead. I have a Moscow Mule, he has a beer. I pay. $10.50

8 p.m. — After a drink, we find another place for real food. Imbiss 204 is apparently owned and operated by top chefs. This place is amazing: tiny, but there are only two guys cooking, serving, waiting tables, and running the register. Bonus: The food is amazing and comes in large portions. $33.25

9:30 p.m. — We need to replenish our water supply, so we go to the local grocery store for a pack of water bottles, and I get a pack of lotion. $5.22

Daily Total: $53.40
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Day Five

10 a.m. — Coffee from the Mensa. It tastes like water, but milk and sugar mask it pretty well.

1 p.m. — Mensa lunch! Deconstructed chicken pot pie and chocolate pudding (yum).

3 p.m. — It’s hot as hell, and Germans hate air conditioning, so I ask the boyfriend to buy me another bottle of water.

5 p.m. — The workroom is getting insufferably hot, so we decide to head to the local watering hole, a.k.a. lake, for a cool dip! I buy water and snacks for our group and a grapefruit Schofferhofer for myself ($4.43). I also stop by the drugstore to get a lotion for dry skin recommended to me by my project partner ($4.42). Total: $8.85

8 p.m. — After jumping into the lake and splashing around, we grab a pizza dinner by our apartment. This place has the sweetest Italian waiter and yummy pizzas. $10.53

Daily Total: $19.38

Day Six

11 a.m. — We sleep in, but it is just as hot as yesterday, so the boyfriend has the brilliant idea to rent bikes so we can be cooled by a breeze while traveling. (Spoiler: we just sweat a lot.) $13.30

1 p.m. — It is so hot. We stop in the park. He decides to continue his search for Birkenstocks, so we bike to the local shopping area, but first get drinks and something to eat. $10.22

3 p.m. — We’re cooled off by now, and he has finally found a pair in his size, so I take a peek into Zara and get a long-sleeve white shirt to ward off the sun. $16.63

4 p.m. — We’re ready to head back home to jump into the lake, but we decide to get floatation devices from Real. We get three floating beds and three Angry Birds inflatable rings for ourselves and friends, but I expect to be paid back. $66.51

6 p.m. — Alas! We finally make it to the lake, but the beach is closed due to imminent thunderstorms. Everyone is rushing home; we decide to turn around, too.

7 p.m. — We don’t expect it to rain anymore, so we head out for dinner at a local place by the park. I have a plate of Caprese and some tea. $7.20

Daily Total: $113.86

Day Seven

12 p.m. — Wake up late, go to this cute Italian café nearby that serves high-end wine and cheese, but all we order is coffee. $4.43

2 p.m. — Decide to go to the Neues Museum, redone by David Chipperfield Architects and reopened in 2009. Student admission is $7.76.

4 p.m. — We find ourselves at the Digital Eatery again and have a sandwich and fresh juice (pear and lemon, so yum). Boyfriend buys.

7 p.m. — Spend the evening swimming in the lake atop our new inflatables, sipping beer.

10 p.m. — Dinner at Schwarzwaldstuben, this highly rated German restaurant in the center of the city. I have a delicious pear tea and a couple of bites of his pork dinner; I’m not that hungry. I spot my boyfriend for the tea and some tip. $3.33

Daily Total: $15.52

Editor's note: All prices have been converted from euros to dollars. Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, clickhere.


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