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10 tips for saving for an overseas elective

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Arranging funds for an overseas elective placement might be difficult but not impossible. Read on for student nurse Sarah’s tips to raise money

sarah mabbott ntphoto

sarah mabbott ntphoto

Sarah Mabbott

In just a few weeks, I’ll be flying out to Ghana for an elective placement.

Telling others has evoked a variety of responses, right from “Sounds amazing!” to “You’re crazy”, but most commonly “How can you afford that?” 

A very fair point, and with flights, accommodation, vaccinations, antimalarials and supplies to consider, it hasn’t been easy.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I have made sure I found one! If you think an overseas elective is for you, feel free to read on for a few money-raising methods.

  • Student loan

Ah! the student loan. Created to keep our heads above water as we battle through higher education… many completely rely upon it, others squander it. Me? I used it to buy the flight tickets.

  • Part-time work

If you’ve got the time to spare, one or two shifts a week will give you a steady income. I work as a bank healthcare assistant at my local hospital; not only is this a flexible way to earn, it’s also valuable experience and could allow you to make some useful professional connections.

  • Bursaries and grants

Various nursing organisations, charities, maybe even your own university, may offer financial help towards certain elective costs. You’ll need to write an engaging application detailing your plans and possibly a reflective piece about the experience once you’ve returned. Not a bad trade-off though, right? Search around for what’s available and apply for as many as you can.

  • Sponsorship

Start locally and see if any clubs or groups within your community would be willing to sponsor your trip. If you’re feeling extra persuasive, try larger companies or corporations, but bear in mind that they may be more selective, having already received thousands of similar requests.

  • Fundraising

We set up a fundraising page and shared it via social media, where friends and family made generous donations towards our trip. However, do note that many may charge a fee for their service (a small percentage of your total). Alternatively…a fundraising bake sale? Car wash? Skydive? 

  • Sell unwanted things

Have a clear out and ditch the clutter. Try a second-hand selling website, or head to a car-boot sale, where you can offload your unwanted junk and make some extra cash; win-win!

  • Spend wisely

Pack your own lunch, buy fewer takeaways… You’ve probably heard it all before, but it really does help. If you’re lucky enough to have housemates with similar taste (shoutouts to mine!), split the shopping and take turns cooking. There’s nothing better than coming home to a cooked meal after a long day of placement.

  • Use your discounts

Become the annoying customer in every restaurant/shop who tries to get money off EVERYTHING. And don’t be shy - “Student discount? NHS discount? Hmm…voucher code?”

  • Find the right balance

Although sacrifices do need to be made, remember to have fun in the meantime. Where possible, try pre-booking things such as train tickets, days out etc. Shop around for deals, and buy online if it’s cheaper.

  • Win the lottery 

One day…

While an overseas elective isn’t practical for everyone, it’s certainly achievable and will be worth all the hard work. Good luck!

Sarah Mabbott is currently in her third year studying adult nursing at Bournemouth University. She organised her overseas elective through Work the World

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