I genuinely hate money. I need it, I want it, but I hate it. No matter what I do in life, I will have to focus on a way to get money, because otherwise I obviously won’t have the means for shelter, food, and hygiene. Now of course the pursuit of money can be disguised under the lovely pretense of loving your job, but that doesn’t change what it is.

I know some children grow up sheltered from financial responsibilities, and it’s true my parents were well off enough that I didn’t need to work growing up or worry really. But I still felt the realities of finances. We were never homeless or without food or clothes, but my parents did struggle financially for some years, and I remember the few years when I was restricted to shopping at second-hand stores for my clothes, which has made it harder for me since to ask for clothes at full retail price, even though I know my parents don’t struggle like they used to.

College makes financial pressure so much more of a reality. My sister and I were always told we couldn’t go to college because my parents couldn’t afford it. I, being a ridiculously stubborn and independent child since birth, of course went anyway, thanks to the ever generous US government’s student loan program. 

Honestly I didn’t think much of it my first year. My parents helped me make payments before my loans came in, then they came and I had more than enough money to survive on. Then first year ended, and the only way to live on campus still was to live in year-round housing, which meant I had to pay rent over the summer when I didn’t have a loan. So I worked, and my parents helped out where they could. I’m very grateful for how they’ve helped me.

As I’ve made it a little over halfway through my degree now, I feel the pressures of my loans more and more. An education is not cheap, but especially at a “world class” university as an international student, living in the most expensive city in North America. With my job all through second year I was able to save a big chunk of my loan money anyway and keep it for exchange, because I knew I didn’t want to work on exchange. Well, it looks like that may need to change.

Because of the pressure I feel from the large, six figure sum I owe in student loans, I chose to take out less than the maximum for this year of exchange, this year I didn’t want to work. What’s more, I knowingly took out less than what was advised as a “modest student budget” by the University of Oslo, even though I knew I wanted to travel. I’m sure you can imagine what kind of a mindset I’m in now, a few months in and trying to budget how the rest of exchange will go. Let me tell you, that anxiety I told you about earlier in the week is as strong as ever.

I know this may be a stupid way to see things, but as I’ve already told my parents, I will travel despite the stress. I’ve wanted to travel since I was eight years old, and now I’m here and this is what exchange is for, to travel and see new things and grow. It’s my year to do that, so I’m going to. I just may end up homeless, in the most expensive city in the world. I’ve budgeted everything out so that theoretically I can afford all of this, but it means living on a monthly food budget of one fifth of what that “modest student budget” suggested.

It’s not even that I can’t still buy a reasonable amount of food with that, I can. I think what’s messing with me more is that I feel like I can’t eat. I feel like I need to eat less, starve myself in order to make this work. And even following the budget, booking flights right now for a trip over the holidays has got my whole body uncomfortably twitchy.

I’m still not sure how I’m going to get myself out of this pickle to feel comfortable again. I just really hate money.

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