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 income streams that you can start building right away, even if you don’t have any special skills.
Planning your finances and having a rough 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. Although scholarships in Italy can be very generous (up to 4000€/year) they have two main limitations, the first is that you cannot rely on them 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 completely.
- Savings. Savings is a very important safety cushion 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 practical income sources for your studies.
Practical ways to earn money during your studies in Italy
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 as a hired employee. 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 several 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 accumulating some savings.1 Teaching English (or another language) online or in-person– 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 part-time 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 Upwork.com (or fiverr.com). 3 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 (usually there is a section on the university website for this). Although usually limited to several hundred hours a year, they could be a good side-kick in combination with one of the options above.. 4 Virtual assistant. What is it? As a virtual assistant you help existing businesses run their day-to-day tasks remotely from your computer. Tasks usually include writing emails, sorting documents, exploring or researching certain subjects, managing excel sheets etc. Just like with part-time freelancing – you can learn the job with Udemy courses and then find work on Upwork.com or Peopleperhour.com. 5 Premium Babysitting with English. Classic babysitting is not for everyone and is not always well paid because virtually anyone can babysit. In order to get a competitive advantage in this field – offer babysitting with foreign language exposure! You will be surprised how many moms and dads in Italy will choose you over other babysitters and will even be willing to pay you a premium just because you can teach their toddler English and practice speaking English with them in addition to taking care of their child for several evening a week. Make sure you have some basic Italian and some babysitting experience (even within your own family) to make your chances of finding a job better. 6 Restaurants / Bars / Hotels – even if it sounds like work you could probably easily get in you own country, working in actual businesses in Italy will be more challenging than you think. The first chalenge is knowing Italian – no matter how international the hotel is, knowing some Italian is a must for customer support of any kind. The second challenge are the working conditions – as many of those jobs are not very well paid and few offer part-time positions.
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 is a graduate of the Harvey Medical Program at University of Pavia and is the founder of MEDschool.it. He is a Resident in Ophthalmology and a Researcher in Ophthalmic Gene Therapy in Germany.
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