Managing your finances is an important part of your study abroad experience; we want to equip you with the tools and information you need to feel confident in budgeting before and during your semester.
How Much Money Do You Need for A Semester in Copenhagen?
There are certain elements of living in Copenhagen, such as dining out, spending time in cafes, and some social activities, that will likely be more expensive than what you’re used to at home. How and where you choose to spend your time outside of DIS will heavily influence your expenses for the semester.
Your DIS housing will cover a portion of your food expenses through either a food stipend purchase card or meals provided, but then you will have personal expenses and food expenses beyond that. Students have spent between $200-550 per month on food expenses beyond their coverage from DIS. This range depends heavily on how much you are eating at restaurants vs. cooking at home.
In addition, past students have reported spending approximately $1000-3000 over the semester for personal expenses that fall into categories such as: toiletries, entertainment, non-meal food and beverage, and travel. A big differentiating factor is travel. Consider your spending habits within these categories at home and how they will look similar or different abroad.
Read more about estimated costs below.
Planning Your Budget
Creating a plan for your finances abroad starts months before your semester.
Expatistan is a helpful budgeting tool that allows you to compare the price of items and experiences in your city to those in Copenhagen. To get started with this tool, write down your expenses for two weeks at home, then plug those numbers into Expatistan to see what the same spending habits would equate to in Copenhagen.
Suzi, DIS Student Blogger, shares her financial planning strategy for her semester abroad in Copenhagen.
As Suzi mentions, scholarships can be crucial in your ability to study abroad. We highly encourage you to apply to both DIS scholarships and those offered through different organizations.
Traveling During Your Semester
You will likely meet some students who have a lot of travel plans for their semester, and others who plan to invest their time outside of class exploring more locally.
Regardless of if you plan to travel, we recommend you wait to book any trips until you are in Copenhagen. At the end of each semester, students have commented that they wish they spent more time getting to know Copenhagen and their local neighborhood – so instead of planning out all your weekends before you arrive in Denmark, do some research on how you can explore the greater Copenhagen and fold into local life.
Advice from Past DIS Students on Budgeting Abroad
Below is advice from students on how they budgeted before and during their time at DIS. If you’d like to discuss your budgeting strategy in more detail, call the North American Office and one of our staff would be happy to provide insight.
Make use of DIS resources
During your first week at DIS, you have the opportunity to attend Living Like a Local sessions, where locals and DIS alumni share information about deals, discounts, and suggestions for budget friendly activities. Find further budgeting resources in the DIS Navigate app, which you will gain access to before the start of your semester.
Research student discounts
In Denmark, many cafes and museums offer student discounts. Some museums and exhibition spaces also have days when admission is free.
Past students have also recommended looking through course syllabi at the start of the semester to find out about your upcoming Field Studies. If you will be going to a museum or cultural site with one of your courses, it might make sense to wait until that Field Study – rather than paying out of pocket for your visit.
Get involved at DIS and beyond
Look for extracurriculars and other activities offered through DIS. Joining a club or attending events such as New in Town meetups provides an opportunity to build community while seeing different parts of the city.
Loppemarkeder, or flea markets, are particularly common during the weekend in Copenhagen. Search using this word on Facebook and you can easily find upcoming events where locals sell clothes and other goods.
Find items at the DIS Sustainable Boutique
Everything is free at the Sustainable Boutique, where you find clothes, books, accessories, school supplies, and more from past DIS students. Stop by during your semester – find details in the DIS Navigate app.
Explore the city as locals do
Volunteer-driven cafes and community centers provide affordable opportunities to meet Copenhageners and potentially try something new. There are plenty of events happening in the city, from community dinners to quiz nights.
To get inspiration for what to see and do in neighborhoods across the Greater Copenhagen Area, check out Neighborhood Guides on the DIS Blog.
Save money when buying food
In Copenhagen, there are price differences between supermarkets – but there are also affordable options, including surplus food supermarkets like Wefood.
Learn more about websites and apps that share supermarket deals and offers for discounted meals:
Bring your own bag
Many stores in Denmark charge extra for plastic bags. To save money and shop sustainably, bring your own bag whenever you go out shopping.
“There are many things to do in and around the city that are either inexpensive or totally free. When you participate in these activities, you are more likely to interact with the locals and get a taste of true Danish culture.”
– Ally, UNC-Chapel Hill