by Ruby Dann, University of Connecticut and Spring ’19 Umbra Rep
When I first began the process of deciding to study abroad, my highest concern was money. I was excited to encounter international travel, culture, and academics but deterred by the fear of spending money. If you are a potential study abroad applicant or current student who finds money to be a stressor, I want to share some tips and reminders to motivate you into enjoying what will be an incredibly rewarding journey. Choosing the Umbra Institute is your first step towards smart spending. Located in a historic city with a hometown vibe, the experience is authentic. Compared to Rome or Florence, Perugia provides a variety of cultural opportunities without touristy prices.
As typical of Italian cities, there is both a historic and a modern section of Perugia. Because of the space available in the historic part, the nearby grocery stores (Coop, Umbrò, Pam) are akin to American minimarts or bodegas. However, there are larger versions of these stores in the modern section of the city. While it is a longer commute and requires the Mini-metrò, the prices are lower at the larger store, and the variety is substantially different. I recommend a collective and planned shopping trip to the large Coop once before each week, and to utilize the smaller, nearby shops when you need one or two items. Also, focus on the brands from which you are selecting. Similarly to American grocery shops, store brands are less expensive for an item of equivalent content. For example, Coop has its own brand of snacks, jarred goods, drinks, etc.
The Umbra Institute puts an emphasis on home cooked meals, as our apartments include furnished kitchens. Challenge yourself to cook in-house as often as possible. Still, indulging yourself in a fancy and filling meal of pizza and wine does not have to be a rare occasion. At a local pizzeria, your order can suffice for two meals. Depending on your toppings, the prices can start from only 4 euro per pizza. House wine is also very inexpensive, and sizes vary depending on your needs. In total, you can spend 11 euro on a classy meal out and still end up with leftovers. Perugia also has local Asian restaurants with very inexpensive dishes. You can try multiple dishes and still pay under 10 euro for your meal.
To travel to and from the historic district of Perugia and the train station or other exciting spots in the city, the Minimetrò will be your friend. Plan head and buy a 10-ride card because the convenience and price are worth it. Buses will be your cheapest option for longer travel, but trains are similarly priced and more reliable.
Living in Perugia is about discovering cultural perspective coupled with self-exploration. It is one of the best Italian cities for cost-effectivity. As someone who has never lived away from home, the transition is natural. In addition to what Perugia has to offer, the Umbra Institute hosts multiple free pizza dinners and shares student discounts. Learning how to spend money is part of the study abroad experience, and just one of the countless opportunities for personal growth.