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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Spend it wisely

Money comes back.

Those are the words a good friend said to me during our first week in Paris. Probably not great long-term financial advice, but he’s an econ major, so I’ve been living by those three words since.

First, I realize this attitude comes from a place of privilege. I’m lucky to study at Notre Dame. I’m lucky I had the opportunity to go abroad. I’m lucky that I got a scholarship from ND International. I’m lucky that I have enough so I can save and not have to worry about money as much this semester. But I’ve worked my tail off, too. I studied hard to get into this university and to get the grades to go to Paris. I worked four jobs last semester to save up for the spring. I sacrificed so that now, every time I find myself doubting whether I should do something, “cost” isn’t the first factor I’m considering.

I don’t mean this to say you should be irresponsible with your money. In fact, I have a color-coded excel sheet where I track my expenses from abroad. I keep all my receipts in a desk drawer and organize them regularly. I just mean that it’s okay to spend money when you know what you want. Money isn’t worth much if it’s sitting in a savings account. That’s what my friend was getting at: money is only worth what you get out of it.

Two months into my time in Paris and I can safely say it’s been worth it. Every single minute I spent shooting a game for ND Studios or making a sandwich at Au Bon Pain or putting together the classified section for this wonderful paper was worth it. All those hours turned into planes to other countries, trains to other cities and hostel stays with friends and strangers. As I wrote in an email right after spring break: “I haven’t checked my bank statement yet but I feel like whatever money I spent was more than repaid in memories I will never forget.”

That’s what I think my money is worth. It is whatever memories it can buy. I’ve been in seven different countries, with two more booked before the end of the month. I’ve seen inimitable art in the Louvre and the Uffizi. I’ve swam in the frigid Copenhagen canals and the warm waters of the baths in Budapest. I’ve seen Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé play in a Champions League game at the Parc des Princes. I’ve also made some new friends from all over that I will not soon forget.

I know it’s cliche, but these have been some of the best months of my life. Before I got on that plane across the Atlantic, I heard it over and over from everyone who had done it. It scared me back then. All I could think was “what if it isn’t for me?” Now I know they were all right. So, spend that money, but spend it wisely because it could turn into the time of your life.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.