Moving to another country is challenging. Demanding school schedules and cold weather are sure to make Caribbean students homesick. Here are five ways to make off-campus life more fulfilling while earning a degree in the U.S.

Be clever with room décor.

Your home – or dorm room – is your sanctuary. Decorating can get costly. DIY decorating is a great way to make your space uniquely yours without breaking the bank. Working with your hands gives your brain a break from studying.

Tape photos to your walls to set a positive vibe. Since this is just temporary, you can use funky coloured tape instead of expensive picture frames.

Don’t acquire too many things. Students living in U.S. dorms are required to relocate every quarter. The cost of shipping to the Caribbean might be as much – or more than buying everything new. Travel light and save on moving fees.

For items like bed frames and desks, we suggest investing in quality so that you can sell them or save money by buying them used.

Travel like a European.

Being mobile is essential for getting to class but also for expanding your ability to explore your new town. However, owning a car can come with many unexpected expenses like repairs, parking permits, and fines for the smallest of traffic violations. Your college or the city might offer a reduced rate for monthly public transport passes.

Consider riding a bike or scooter. These are just as convenient as cars without extra expenses. Cities and tech companies are investing in transportation alternatives. Renting them should let you know whether you’d like to buy. Bikes and scooters can also be cheaper and faster than pooled or individual rideshare services.

Indulge in community goods.

International students share some rights as U.S. residents. You can use public libraries, parks, community centres – some of which have pools and gyms – and museums.

Getting a library card in the U.S. is free and easy. Libraries offer more than books. There are DVDs, CDs, subscriptions to academic databases and online newspapers, encyclopaedias, eBooks, and other digital media. Your local library might also offer free passes to museums, community activities, and educational attractions.

Reduce your monthly expenses.

You might be excited to test all the streaming services like Netflix, and Spotify. Remember, you’re not in the U.S. to binge watch TV; you’re there to see and explore! Free up cash by limiting your monthly expenses. If you sign up for a free trial, set a reminder to cancel before the next billing cycle.

That money can be spent on a round trip bus ticket to a nearby city.

Think like a tourist, not a local.

Staying in a place for an extended period might narrow your focus to the day-to-day grind. Your time in the U.S. is temporary, so think like a tourist and regularly check for things to do. Whether it’s seeing a local show or searching for cheap flights to nearby states. Use this opportunity to capitalize on all the fun, low-cost activities you wouldn’t otherwise have in the Caribbean.

Share these tips with any Caribbean students studying in America.