-Submitted by Michelle Farhang, Abroad101’s Global Ambassador in Florence, Italy
The euro is the currency used in Italy, and it has definitely made an impact on most students on the trip. A euro roughly equals 1.306 American dollars. It doesn’t seem like that big of a difference, but when you are making travel plans, a two hundred and fifty dollar trip quickly becomes over three hundred and twenty five dollars. Around Italy, the biggest issue is shopping, eating and drinking. A fifteen dollar meal is really almost twenty dollars. My classes are six hours long, so we have a lunch break during which I usually get a panino for around five euro. It’s not a bad price at all, but it’s really around seven American dollars. Throw in a cappucino, and that adds up for an everyday expense.
When I first got to Florence, I ate out a lot. I am terrible in the kitchen, as explained in my previous post, and the food here is probably some of the best in the world. I now make dinner at home almost every single night, and so do most of the other students. Taking that cooking class has come in definite use for cooking at home!
Traveling doesn’t usually affect the currency too much, because almost everywhere around Italy also uses the euro. The only places that I have traveled so far that did not use the euro were Switzerland and the Czech Republic. I am also going to Croatia in a couple weeks, which also does not use the euro.
The currency in the Czech Republic was the best. They use Czech koruna, and the exchange rate with American money was amazing. Basically, a thousand Czech koruna is equal to about fifty American dollars. Items for sale were obviously priced much differently. Shoes, for example, ranged from three hundred to twelve hundred koruna, but were still all under one hundred dollars (three hundred koruna is almost fifteen American dollars). The only difficulty was getting used to making the conversion, but my friends studying abroad there had adapted easily and helped me along the way.
Switzerland, on the other hand, was very expensive. They use Swiss francs, and the exchange rate is actually very close to the U.S. dollar. The prices, however, were not even close to the prices that we have in America. A plain bagel was eight dollars, and (terrible, cheap hostel) burgers were fifteen. When we went to Zurich, I was so excited to finally see a Starbucks–but the drinks were eight dollars or more! Prices there were so unbelievable, but it is still one of my favorite countries I’ve seen.
When deciding to study abroad, considering currency is really important. At my school in California, the tuition transfers over for studying abroad, so there isn’t really a “cost”. When I factored costs before I left, I considered my flight and traveling, but it is also important to consider the exchange rate that affects everyday expenses so much. Adapting to the change of the exchange rate has actually helped me learn to manage my money a lot better!