It’s tough being student who is away on a work placement, especially in a program where the work placement is non-paid. It is completely fair that we do not get paid as radiation therapy students especially because we are in our first year and have very little experience. I have chosen to embrace the fact that I am in the clinic 40 hours a week and not making a penny. It is difficult to imagine how a student, like myself, is able to survive (eat, pay rent, have some fun) on 0$ an hour but here is how it works for me.
First of all, I got a very minimal part time job ; something that produces a small weekly income without taking up to much of my social life and my study time (yes, students who are away on a clinical placement still have a lot of studying to do).
Secondly, I applied and received a government student loan. This part is VERY helpful, although, like all government loan holders, I am dreading the day I have to start paying it back, but for now it is helping me get by and I am very thankful for that.
Thirdly, I live on the frugal side. Over the last year or so I have avoided eating out, basically as much as possible. This has saved me a huge amount of money while also forcing me to try to become a better cook. Overall I am pleased to say I have actually started to improve. I went from cereal and popcorn for dinner most nights to meals that are made up of two or three different dishes with an arrangement of colours and food groups. I have also avoided shopping. To some people that might seem like a really big deal but it isn’t exactly that way for me. I seem to go through phases with shopping and the most recent and hopefully last one consisted on a dying need to buy work-out gear. Luckily I have gotten over this and again am very pleased with the amount of money I have saved.
Lastly, I applied for scholarships. Have you ever heard people say that there are so many scholarships out there that many students should actually be able to go to school for free? I thought that was complete crazy talk but on some scale that is actually true. Websites like Scholarshipscanada.com and the BCIT scholarship website have tons of listings for Canadian students you just have to take the time and energy to apply! So based on experience I would say it’s worth it.
With all this saving, what did I do? Not that this is a smart economical move, and I am not putting it out there as advice for others to do, but after 8 months straight as a BCIT student I was, like many others, quite exhausted and in need for a break. Luckily we were given a 2 month summer vacation so I took all that money that I didn’t spend on food, clothes and whatever else and bought myself some plane tickets. I ended up spending an amazing summer running around Australia and the Canadian East Coast. It would probably be better advice to say “save the money that you saved through the school year and continue being frugal” but the experience was 100% worth the price. University is unique to the working world in the fact that sometimes students get large chunks of time off of school and the way I see it, this time off should be optimized!