Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rising Dollar Helps Students Abroad

The economy may be in the tank, and colleges and universities may have bigger challenges in convincing students to go international.

But there is good news: Those students who are going abroad are finding that the dollar's rising value against foreign currencies is making their travel less expensive.

The British pound, whose value was over $1.87 last August, is now worth $1.44. The euro is at $1.29, down from nearly $1.47 last August. The currencies of many popular destinations for U.S. students — the Mexican peso, the Australian dollar and the Chinese yuan — also are down against the dollar in recent months, sometimes substantially so.

Translation: It's cheaper than it's been in a long time for to eat, live and learn in cities around the world. As the world economy remains in the doldrums, so the thinking goes, stable currencies such as the dollar will remain good values on the world market.

University of Nevada-Reno student Jake Bells told the Sagebrush newspaper at his campus that he was pleasantly surprised to find that the most expensive part of his study-abroad experience in China was his plane ticket.

“I could have brought $100 and lived fine for almost two months,” he said. “Everything there was super cheap compared to here. You could get a full course meal there for like $5.”

European destinations will still cost students more than other locations around the world. To get the biggest bang for the buck, Dominique Nelson, a study abroad programming official at Nevada-Reno, says students should consider developing nations such as Costa Rica, India and Mexico.

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