One of the things I am really proud of, is the fact that I was able to finish my 6 years of medical studies in Pavia without asking my parents for money nor without getting any loans. In this post I will tell you how I was able to pull it off and give you several feasible and practical options that you can implement too, even if you don’t have any special skills.

Planning your finances and having a good idea of how you are going to make it through your medical years in Italy could easily make the difference between having a stress-free studies with comfortable life or having to abrupt your degree because you can’t financially support yourself any longer. During my studies my finances were based on 3 pillars: scholarship, (part-time) work and savings and in order to achieve a secure, stress-free life in Italy you need all 3:

  • Scholarships. We have discussed this already elsewhere and although it is a lump sum (up to 4000€/year) it has two limitations, the first is that you cannot rely on it because there are often things beyond your control that can cause you to lose a scholarship or not to get one in the first place. Secondly, even the full scholarship does not cover your expenses (~10.000€/year) completely.
  • Savings. Savings is a very important pillar which “buys” you time in stressful times like the exam sessions or in years when you miss the scholarship, but you have to keep in mind having enough savings for 6 years of life in Italy is impractical. For the peace of mind I would suggest you to have enough money set aside to support yourself for at least 6-12 months.
  • Work. Now we come to the main point of this post – student work, and below I provide you with 3+ viable income sources for your studies. As a student you have different requirements from your potential work as opposed to a non-student. You have to find a part-time, flexible and good paying job, because your free-time is limited and sometimes non-existent (exams). Moreover, if you are a non-European, than your student visa limits you to 50% working week. If you are not Italian and don’t speak Italian fluently than your options are even more limited. I was working my whole degree as a part-time home-based software developer, but chances are you don’t have the same skills, therefore below I suggest 3+ ways you could earn money during your medical school. The interesting part is that you can start developing those income streams already now, and even start making some savings.
1 Teaching English (or another language) online or in private lessons – Even if you don’t have experience in English teaching, you can take an online language-teaching course that will guide you how you can set yourself as a freelance online English teacher, find students and start teaching to earn money from anywhere in the world. If you want earn more, you can even charge extra by teaching a niche English topic. This way you can make some good money and build your clients least starting even now, while being completely flexible with your work time. Not good at English grammar? No problem, teach conversational English instead. iTALKi.com is one of the best websites to find students to teach (but also Italian tutors to learn from) that I’ve personally used to learn German. It is super easy to use and handles all the money and planning issues for you so that you could focus on teaching. Combine it with a prep-course on language-teaching online and you are good to go!

2 Learn a skill and become a freelancer – if you are a creative person who likes working on the computer, you can easily learn a high-demand skill and work from home as a freelancer. Nowadays there are super-inexpensive online video-courses on Udemy platform that can teach you skills like web-design, professional blogging, web-development, graphic design, social media marketing or even video-editing just to name a few options for which you need nothing more than a standard laptop/computer. I personally have bought over 30 courses and watch them offline on a smartphone on my way to work. Many top rated courses on Udemy cost under 50$ and some even under 20€ and are often worth every penny. Once you have a skill you can offer, you can find jobs on sites like freelancer.com or fiverr.com.

3 Babysitting (just kidding!) this won’t pay well enough but on the other hand University student-jobs are another feasible option for students. Those are a bit harder to find because of the limited number but every University offers its students relatively well payed jobs (14-17€/hour) doing things like supervising a library (while studying!), tutoring anatomy lessons or helping out in the students-exchange office. Each university is different and you will need to figure out how to find and apply yourself for those. Although usually limited to several hundred hours a year, they could be a good side-kick in combination with one of the options above..

As always, preparation is key, so start learning a skill today and begin building your financial security for your medical studies. I hope you find this post helpful and will be glad to read your comments on our facebook group!


Alex Ochakovski (Pavia)

Alex is a graduate of Harvey Medical course in English, taught in Pavia University and the founder of MEDschool.it. He currently pursuits his carrier in Ophthalmology and ophthalmic gene therapy research in Germany.
Alex Ochakovski (Pavia)