Friday, July 18, 2008

Frugality and travel

I am cheap.

So what am I doing in Europe, a hugely expensive undertaking, you ask? Well I have to ask myself that quite a lot as well. The thing is, I hardly decided to do this myself, others nudged me into coming here. I am glad for it, but very likely would never have done it on my own.

I have resolved my cognitive dissonance on the matter by deciding that every Euro I spend must in some way enrich me as a person. Meaning I don't blow money on inconsequential things like cheesy souvenirs, the prettier-looking lunch options at the Mensa (Cafeteria) or expensive drinks at clubs. Even though I am here for 4 months, I still live like a backpacking traveller because it is not worth it to buy housewares I will never use again.

I am travelling to see Europe, but at the same time to learn, and I continue to learn more every day. About language, about history, about art, about people. I consider this trip an investment in myself. Every day I do not learn is a waste of my time and money.

Which is why I don't bat an eye at a 10 Euro museum admission, but get thoroughly pissed off when an internet cafe rips me off by 0.50 Euro.

My philosophy on this trip makes things difficult when meeting with other students who have very different views than I do. Some are only interested in their work, some just with partying, some don't want to spend money at all, and others have tons to blow. Meaning more often than not I have had to strike out and put my foot down for what I want to do. Which is perhaps the best thing I have learned so far this summer.

I decided to come here on the advice of others, but now here I am deciding what I want, and sticking to that. Money is a powerful motivator when it comes to making decisions.

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