Self-funding Grad School Abroad: what I’m doing to raise money

In less than a few months, I am moving to Scotland for grad school. For me, it’s a literal dream come true. But between tuition and moving costs, this is turning into one expensive dream. I’ve let cost get in the way of my dreams before, and I don’t want to let that happen with this. So, I’m doing everything I can short of making a gofundme to keep this goal a possibility. I want to do as much as I can to earn and raise funds myself, especially given that I’m still in debt from my Bachelor’s Degree.

Now, before I get too much into it, I have to thank everyone who read and responded to my last post. Much of my academic experience has been tied to feelings of inadequacy. So, I was slightly shocked by the love and support I received in response. I’m so used to feeling less than, especially with school. But you all helped me feel valid, which has been a rarity in my life, especially when it comes to school.

For similar reasons to what I discussed in my last post, I’ve been rejected from almost every scholarship I could find. So, this is what I’m doing instead to fund my studies:

Extra Shifts and Overtime

I’m currently working a full-time job and a part-time, on-call job. Both fortunately and unfortunately, my full-time job is seasonal and ends on US Tax Day. I’m trying to wrack up ask much payroll work as possible while I can. I’m accepting every shift offered, requesting extra where appropriate, and covering for coworkers whenever possible. My on-call job has been significantly affected by the pandemic. So, I am having to be almost obsessive about checking the posting boards. I am definitely not the only of my coworkers desperate for work and postings go quickly.

Once I’m there, I will only be able to work up to twenty hours a week with my student visa. So, I need to take advantage of what little time I have left in the US and work as much as possible.

Portraiture Commissions

I’ve been using my social media platforms to run short deals on digital portraits. I have been pleasantly surprised by the volume of support I’ve been getting with these. So much support, actually, that I’ve had to pause commissions in order to get the orders I have in finished. With this happening during tax season, I also have been working a full-time and a part-time job on top of these commissions. I slow and I have absolutely no downtime. All time not spent at work is spent drawing or sleeping, but I enjoy it nonetheless. AND, I’m damn proud of the work I’ve created through this process.

Tax season comes to a close in a couple of days and I am almost caught up with my first round of commissions. So, I plan to open them back up soon! Keep an eye out for the announcement on my Instagram!

Selling what I need to leave behind

Giving that I am moving to a completely new continent with a giant land mass and ocean between there and where I currently live, I am going to have to shed most of my material possessions. So naturally, I’m going to sell what I can and donate the rest. I’m actually quite excited about this bit. It’s been something I’ve been consciously thinking about since I decided I wanted to become an expat several years ago. So unsurprisingly, I’m pretty prepared.

I have a few big ticket items that I am going to try and sell locally online through sites like Craigslist and Facebook Market. This includes most of my furniture, my PC (I’ll be taking my laptop with me), some art equipment and my car. I am a little sad to be parting with my car, especially so soon after I bought it. It was such an accomplishment at the time too, having just graduated college and the car being a newer model. But it will cover a sizable portion of my tuition and I am excited not have to drive anymore. (Yay public transit!)

When my parent’s moved to Oklahoma six months ago, they made a killing having a garage sale. I’m thinking about taking a page out of their book and hosting one for my smaller items. My housemates are also moving to a smaller place when I go. So, if I can organize them quickly enough, I think it would be a good thing for us all. Despite having culled myself of a large portion of my belongings when I moved a few years ago, I have a decent amount of books, household items, and clothes that I can sell.

For what I do donate, I want to be intentional about where I send stuff to. I have belongings that could be helpful in the right hands, and I’d much rather that than them going toward profit for a private company. Any books I’m not able to sell, I plan to donate to local schools and libraries. A good portion of my closet that I have to get rid of take are professional clothes. Universities often have “professional closets” for students to select free clothes from for interviews, internships, presentations, etc. I would like to find a place like this or a women’s center to donate what I have to.

I could write a whole post on the culling process (which I just might do!), but I’ve already given more details than probably anybody but by grandparents would care about.

Amazon Wish Lists

Now that we’re on the topic of getting rid of material belongings, let’s talk about Amazon. They have a feature that allows you to make what is essentially a doorstep registry. Friends, family, and strangers alike can purchase items from your list and have them sent to you without ever having to know your address or personal information.

I’ve taken full advantage of this feature and made two lists: one for the trip and one for when I arrive. While I am getting rid of most of what I own, there are a few things Lucy and I still need for the journey to Scotland itself. This includes things like a suitcase, a luggage scale, outlet adapters, travel pet bowls, etc. You can find this list here if you’d like to help support me this way. Seeing as I am going to have to start almost completely from scratch, I’ve also made a list for when I arrive. This list covers things from school supplies to home goods to winter wear. As a California kid moving to a place with snow for the first time, I have a feeling that last one is going to be important. I’ll post this list when I arrive.

Obviously I don’t expect anyone to get me anything from my lists, but I know that I do have people in my circle who always support me. This is a great way to do so. It both helps me get set up in a new place as well as helping cut costs. My parents did this with their big move and it ended up being such a blessing not having to worry about things like dishes and pillows on top of the logistics of moving.

Accepting Support

Now, this one is probably the most difficult for me. I am by nature absurdly independent. My whole life has been a race to prove that I can. But over the last three years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to accept support, especially from loved ones. I’ve learned that there is a huge difference between being a burden and being nurtured. Thankfully, I’m finally starting to get to the point in my life where I can see myself and my path as anything but a burden to others.

So for everyone who has offered help or is thinking about offering help: my answer is “Yes! Thank you!” For those asking where I can be sent donations, you can add me on Venmo (@stanlitto), CashApp ($stanlitto), or PayPal (@stanlitto). I’m still learning how to appreciate help without feeling guilty, but accepting help is a good first step. For now, I’m replacing “I’m sorry” with “Thank you!”

This whole process is a big deal for me and only slightly terrifying. I’m trying not to let costs cut down my dreams. This is what I have figured out so far, and I am always open to suggestions. If you have any ideas on how I can raise tuition money without begging or going into debt, leave a comment, give me a call, shoot me a text, or send me a letter if you feel so inclined.

Thank you to everyone who is following my journey. All of the love and support I’m receiving is so appreciated. Make sure to stay tuned as I continue on this grand adventure. Much, much more is yet to come!

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