quinta-feira, 25 de setembro de 2014

The Expen$ive American Dream

One of the things that we all care about when we are planning on going abroad is: "How much will this wish cost?"
While being abroad,  we are tempted to think that everything about our country is crappy and horrible. Well, we should think twice and analyze the pros and cons and see things from a different angle.
We pay a lot of taxes in Brazil which is terrible. On the other hand, if you ever get sick in the US, get ready to become a billionaire in a couple minutes. I paid my Health Insurance for the period while I am here and I really needed to see a chiropractor. My insurance covers 60 or 80% of the costs depending on the doctors I have seen, if they are either from the Insurance Company's network or not. Moreover, you are responsible for the copay (amount of money that you pay the doctor, then he/she sends your bill to the Insurance, they cover the percentage previously agreed and the balance/ difference of it, you need to pay). Sounds nice, but what they charge people here for some stuff is an absurd!! It's really expensive. A friend of mine told me that her husband went to hospital and stayed there for a couple days due to a disease. They had to pay over 30.000,00 dollars, which is insane. Having a Insurance is REALLY important.
Despite the fact we have a lot of issues with Health System in Brazil, it is good to see the doctor for free, get shots for free, get medicines for free, etc...
Another aspect that it is really expensive is: Education! We, Brazilians, are really fortunate for not having to pay for college if we study at a public university. Guess what? It doesn't matter if you are studying at a public or private university, you will pay tuition either ways, and they are not cheap. People have debts and debts with this stuff. My tuition is already paid because of the agreement between my university and my current American university. Everything I needed to pay was: Meal Plan ( as I explained in my previous posts)/ Accommodation / Health Insurance / Books / Personal Spends. But not everything was exactly as I had planned before.
My 4 books were really expensive. Just one of them was over 200 dollars! Thanks to my great buddy JJ, we order all my books online (on AMAZON.com) for less than 120 dollars. But, there's more...
I firstly registered myself to take voice lessons, but at my first week of class (that I didn't have all of the classes because some of my professors couldn't show up) I was called by one of the coordinators of the Department who informed me that my voice class was cancelled for the semester because I was the only student for that class. Frustrating right? Get ready for the "better" part!
The coordinator told me that he was sorry about that ( and he is truly a nice guy) because he knew I was really excited about taking voice lessons, but the university "would give me" another option. I could take private lessons with a teacher normally, but I had to pay over 200 dollars! hahaha
My first thought was: Alright, I applied to take this class, they cancelled the class because I was the ONLY ONE and they forward me to another class, but I would have to pay for it! :( I am kinda having the same class, but now I would have to pay for it... That was the sad part. In order to take the classes that I wanted, I would have to spend a little more (that's way you should prepare yourself for the unforeseen issues that may arise during your trip). But there's more stuff...
I looked at my online bill to check how everything was going and I realized that my Health Insurance priced was more expensive than the price I saw online, I say, almost 50% more expensive than the previous cost. I talked with them to try to get a discount, anything, because, honestly, I was not ready for the increased price, however the university couldn't do anything because every year the price increases  ( and that year, around 43%). Well, I paid since I don't want to pay more if I need to see a doctor ( I really hope not).
Well, going back to the point of Education.
One of the discussion in my class among the Americans was why the tuition is so expensive in the US, since Education is a priority in our society?  (their words!) This is something that I am not able to answer, but I know that it is too much ( I can not imagine if I had to pay also the tuition. I can totally say that I would consider coming here to study here more than twice. lol)
In short, my mom and I have paid more than we thought we were going to pay, and since I was not born with a silver spoon, I have to control my finances more carefully and reconsider things I want to do while I am here.
In sum, I am really thankful for people that have helped me financially in some aspects of this trip, and also because my tuition is paid ( thanks, Ambrose ) otherwise I would have to pay more than I paid, but it not fun at all! hahaha.
To conclude,  I also would like to give you some tips to think before traveling:

1) While you are making the budget, be exaggerated about the prices: since I have got here, the currency rates are really high (price of the dollar, IOF and the bank operation fees which even includes withdraws. These days I paid more money in Reais to withdraw 230 dollars than when I withdrew 260 dollars to pay my bill.). Therefore, try to add 5, 8 or even 10% of the costs of each item on your budget. For example: if the Accommodation costs 3.000 dollars, write 3.300 in your budget, so you can have some money for emergencies (or maybe fun! :D ).

2) Always have a Health Insurance Company during your trips: you may have no idea how health system is in another country, so spending this money with a company is something that I highly recommend.

3) Review your budget over and over again: checking the prices and trying to prepare yourself ahead for any situation is really important. So, keep an eye out at the price of currency rates, other fees, etc...

4) SAVE MONEY: All the experiences abroad will compensate all the financial effort!
That's it! Looking forward to sharing more about my adventures!! :)

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