In Her Campus’ series Where’d My Money Go?, we’re taking a look at what one college student spends in a week on campus. In this piece, Eliana, a recent University of Central Florida grad, shares her weekly spending habits.
If I could describe my spending habits in one word, it would be sporadic. Ironically, everything else in my life is typically organized, but when it comes to managing money, I admit it’s still a work in progress. However, after graduating from my university, I quickly discovered there is not always a method to my madness regarding my money management.
Before graduating from the University of Central Florida in the fall of 2022 with a dual degree in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Studies, I hadn’t utilized money management strategies due to being awarded numerous scholarships, working multiple jobs, and receiving financial assistance from my parents.
Currently, I am taking a growth year by participating in Fulbright Taiwan. I started in August as an English Teaching Assistant under the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, and have been placed in Kaohsiung to teach elementary school students. Moving to a different country, culture, and currency, I knew I had to adjust my spending habits to live comfortably under my monthly stipend, which is approximately $35,000 to $45,000 new Taiwanese dollars ($1,081.83 to $1,390.93 USD). Within the stipend, I am responsible for paying for rent, electricity, and utilities. Additionally, as an aspiring pediatric endocrinologist, I need to save money to prepare for medical school applications.
Since I teach 21 classes Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., I am usually provided free lunch and drinks, and don’t have too much free time to spend money on other activities and events. However, since last week was the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, I did indulge in a splurge to make the most of the three-day holiday weekend. During the week of the moon festival, be prepared to indulge in some of my food adventures — from traveling to Tainan to spending the day at Cijin Beach — while getting a look at a day in the life of a Fulbright scholar.
The following dollar amounts listed are in New Taiwanese dollars.
9 a.m.: My local English teacher (LET) gave me a tour of her home county, Tainan to teach me more about its culture and community. During my time there, I was able to try different cuisines like milky fish and tour the Anping Fort. ($0 NTD)
4 p.m.: After touring Fort Provincia, I stopped by the gift shop to purchase some drinks and food exclusively sold in Tainan. ($120 NTD)
Daily Total: $120 NTD ($3.72 USD)
12 p.m.: Due to being an English Teaching Assistant, I receive free lunch during school days. Today’s lunch includes soup, chicken, rice, and a slice of watermelon. ($0 NTD)
4:30 p.m.: After teaching, I went on the MRT to go to Formosa Boulevard, the largest round-shaped station in the world. While touring Formosa Boulevard, I went window shopping at some of the local stores and took pictures of the Dome of Light. ($0 NTD)
Daily Total: $0 NTD
8 a.m.: Since I teach fifth-grade students, I was able to go with them on their field trip to the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Weiwuying. During the field trip, I was able to watch a professor and his student perform multiple songs on the piano. ($0 NTD)
12 p.m.: For the school field trip, the school packed me a fish bento box for lunch. ($0 NTD)
Daily Total: $0 NTD
4 p.m.: After school, I took the MRT to Central Park to explore the Kanahei Small Animal-themed 7/11 for content creation. While creating content for my Instagram, I bought zero-sugar grape konjac jelly. ($45 NTD)
Daily Total: $45 NTD ($1.39 USD)
7 p.m. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., I go to a free Chinese class taught by one of my LET’s co-workers. Currently, I am learning phonics, everyday phrases, and numbers in Chinese. ($0 NTD)
Daily Total: $0 NTD
12 p.m.: Due to the moon festival, I had a day of school and decided to explore a local art district. During my time there, I bought a large brown sugar boba iced tea. Additionally, I bought a pale pink waterproof crossbody bag due to Kaohsiung experiencing more rain than usual due to the typhoon season. ($660 NTD)
4 p.m.: The rest of the day, I toured and took pictures of the scenery of the art district. ($0 NTD)
Daily Total: $660 NTD ($20.44 USD)
6 p.m.: I went to Cijin Beach with some friends and took scenic photos. Afterward, I went to the Sunset Bar to purchase garlic and regular fries. ($150 NTD)
Daily Total: $150 NTD ($4.65 USD)
Weekly Total: $975 NTD ($30.20 USD)
Overall, I am pleased with how I spent my money last week — especially since it was the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. During the past two months abroad, I’ve been trying to find a balance between spending money on essentials versus non-necessities, all while cultivating a second home in Kaohsiung. Although I still have room to improve my money management skills, I’m content with my current spending habits and look forward to growing financially and personally as a Fulbright Scholar.