Living in Dubai isn’t always glitz and glam, especially if you’re a student. You’re faced with all the same money woes that students normally face – the only difference is that you can’t get a nice loan from your bank to help you out. At the end of each month you’re surprised that you managed to survive yet again off cereal, soda and AED 50 in your bank account.
With that in mind, here are some helpful tips – from student to student – to make your money last a little bit longer each month.
Where I go to university there is no free parking provided and paying for parking every day ended up making my wallet very angry at me. Not only was I paying for parking, I would quite frequently forget to top up my hours (I was too busy expanding my brain – that’s my excuse!), so at the end of my day, I would be greeted by the dreaded white piece of paper on my windscreen. Solution? Public transport, and being a student you are eligible for a Personal NOL card, which gives you discounted travel for only AED 7.50 a day, anywhere in Dubai. All you need is a letter from your university to be sent to the RTA, along with AED 70, and then you can start reaping the benefits.
Whether you live at home or in the dorms, it’s easy to fall into the trap of ordering food in – it’s quick and easy and who can be bothered to cook when you have three deadlines due? Also, let’s be honest, the food court on campus is hardly food for the brain. You must resist the temptation and choose the smartest choice, which is to bulk buy your own food. You can then meal prep for the week ahead. Make the meals as healthy as possible and keep off that dreaded ‘freshman 15’ – pack your lunch with you and keep that purse hidden!
Let’s face it, living in Dubai there are certain standards to keep up. No-one here would dare arrive on campus in their pyjamas – if you did, someone would probably think you’re dying and call an ambulance! But as a student, keeping up with the latest trends should be bottom of your list of priorities. Still, certain shops in the UAE now offer students a 15% discount. Check out New Look, Forever 21, Juicy Couture and even Apple. You still don’t need to make a habit of shopping, but when you do, at least you can save some money along the way.
Students living here will be familiar with having most of the family abroad, and living on your own for the first time (maybe) can make it difficult to not buy a ticket home every chance you get. But air fares are expensive and you don’t want to always be asking the bank of Mum and Dad for the money. After all, this is your time to become an independent and contributing member of society. With that in mind, try your hand at using your holiday breaks for volunteering or internships. Not only will this save you a lot of money, it also lets you interact with new people, build up your CV and network.
Being a first year, you’re the baby of the school again. You enter university with such dreams and aspirations, and you’re willing to do anything to enhance the quality of your education. But it pays not to be naïve; every lecturer suggests that the core reading books will help you reach that First, but if you look hard enough, practically everything is online now or else supplied by the university library. You can also look for connections in the upper years and borrow books you can’t find off them. And don’t waste money on dozens of fancy notebooks when you can bring a laptop to class and make notes. Not only is this cheaper, you’re saving the earth in the process!
Having that sudden independence it’s only natural that you want to make the most of it by going out with your friends and experience all the wonderful things that Dubai has to offer. It’s no secret, though, Dubai is not cheap – far from it. Heading out most weekends will all add up eventually, so instead of trying out new bars and cafés, wait and see what events your university hosts. Most universities carry out events for movie nights, bowling and other social events, which are way cheaper and sometimes even free.