Things I wish I knew as Freshman: How to Save Money at FUS!

"Pass on what you have learned" -Yoda, Jedi Grand Master. 

                                                       Some of last year's freshman class!

Welcome back or welcome to Adventures at Franklin! My last post was nearly 3 months ago, so I hope everyone is doing well! It's been a pretty busy summer for me. I took summer classes in July, and have been getting ready for the upcoming semester. 
For anyone new, this blog was created in 2013 with the purpose of reporting the happenings at Franklin University Switzerland (FUS). Since then, the blog has gone through several Franklin generations (5 different writers in fact) before finally reaching yours truly. My name is Asa, I'm from Switzerland and Thailand, majoring in Social Justice and Sustainability with a minor in French, and I'm about to enter my final semester at FUS. I'd like to think that I've accumulated a good amount of info over the years, and so now I want to pass that knowledge to the next generation of FUS students. This post is the 1st of a 3 part series: Things I wish I knew as Freshman. 
I know that new students this year will be bombarded with videos about life at FUS, but I bet I'll cover some things that the new videos won't. To start, I'll be covering how to save money. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like to save money where I can. Now that doesn't mean I won't spend money, I like saving money so I can spend money on things I absolutely need/want. I think this is a pretty common trait among university students, so I wanted to share my tips to saving money at FUS.     

1. Buy only what you really need or what you have to spend money on to get because if you wait, you might just get it for cheaper or free. 
Obviously the best way to save money is to not spend money, but it's virtually impossible to avoid spending any money. The solution: buy what you desperately need, buy what you can only get by spending money on it, and then wait before getting anything else because you may get it for very cheap or even free. 
I'll give you an example. At the start of the year, every student needs various amenities to survive  i.e. toilet paper, trash bags, food/cooking supplies, cleaning supplies etc. Although it's impossible to avoid having these things, it's possible to get these things without buying them. Usually at orientation (might be different this year due to COVID-19), there is a free stuff giveaway/sale, where new students can get all sorts of different items i.e. brooms/mops, kitchen stuff (pots, pans, noperishable goods), fans, extension chords etc. I hope this great tradition continues in the future, and greatly recommend to any future students to stop by the giveaway and check out what there is. You might just save yourself some money that you can spend elsewhere.
I'll give you another example, every semester, the commune of Sorengo organizes for people to dump any unwanted items outside onto the side of the street, and a truck will come collect these items in the morning. However, these items on the side of the street are also open to anyone to collect before the trucks come for collection. Franklin students call this day "Trash Day", and it has served many people (including yours truly) over the years. Yes, a lot of the unwanted items are broken, unusable, or in an extremely bad condition, but many items can be salvaged and given a 2nd life. Over the years, I've gotten blenders/food processors, an air mattress, brooms/mops, pots/pans, umbrellas, duffel bags and many more items for free when I could have spend money on them. My friends have gotten scooters, couches, boots, suitcases etc. The bottom line, if you don't need the item right away and are willing to go through some trash before finding a gem, you could save yourself a lot of money.
There's other examples too, at the end of the semester, people will put things up for sale for very cheap or even free because they are leaving and have to get rid of stuff, or they don't want to store it or other reasons. My point, if you don't need something urgently, you can definitely save money if you wait. 

2.  Bring a Tupperware and/or a mug to the Dining Hall/Grotto.
This simple step helps you save money in a few different ways. If you order something to-go and don't have your own Tupperware or mug, you will be charged an extra 1 CHF for a to-go box or cup. So if you have your Tupperware or cup, you avoid that 1 CHF. 
Also, if you do eat at the Dining Hall or Grotto and don't finish your food or need to go somewhere else, you can put your leftovers in your Tupperware for a snack later. This could save you some money from having to spend on food later in the day.
3. Buy side portions or half portions, and other "good for value" items from the Dining Hall/Grotto.  
Full portions cost 13 CHF, half portions are 10 CHF, and side portions are 4.50 CHF. 
Full portions give you the chance to get whatever is on display. Usually, what's on display includes a soup/salad/fruit, veggies, some type of carb (like rice, pasta, or potatoes), and some type of meat. You don't have to get everything because it's a good amount of food, but paying the full portion allows you to get everything.
Half portions usually consist of the full portion minus the fruit/salad/soup, and minus the meat. Half portions are also known as the vegetarian option in some cases. Sometimes they will give you more of the veggie and carb to make up for the lack of meat on your plate. In my experience, I've found that half portions are still a good amount of food. 
Side portions are basically that, just a side. That might mean a side of fries, a side of risotto, a side of pasta, a side of veggies etc. I usually get side portions when I'm not too hungry, but I want to eat something because I have class coming up and won't be able to eat until after the class. 
At FUS, if you don't like whatever is on display, you can order from a menu. The menu changes from year to year, but some of last year's menu consisted of burgers, quesadillas, pasta, waffles, and sides (rice, fries, chicken nuggets, onion rings, mozzarella sticks etc.). The trick is, some of these items give you more volume of food in comparison to others. For example, chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, onion rings all cost 9 CHF (as of Spring 2020), but a burger costs 8.70 CHF. The burger is much better in terms of volume of food for its price.
Another example, pesto pasta costs around 10 CHF on the menu (can't remember the exact price), but sometimes pesto pasta is on display. If I ever want pesto pasta and it's on display, I just get it as a side portion, and I save around 5.50 CHf'; it's a "good for value" meal on that particular day. I get less pasta, but it's still a decent amount especially for the cheaper price. 
4. Get vegetables from the Gardiner's garden.  
One positive thing that Coronavirus did, lots of students who decided to stay over summer helped out in the garden, and it is looking great! I only started getting some vegetables from the garden in my 2nd year, and I wish I did it as a freshman. Not only does it save you money, it also promotes sustainability, which you might have noticed some of the other tips above do too ;) 

5. Get a Migros Cumulus card or Coop Supercard.
Most students shop at Migros or Coop for groceries in Switzerland, and some go to Ponte Tresa in Italy. My point is, get the card that is available at the store because it will save you money! In the words of Jessica (founder of this blog), circa 2016. 

"Just go to the service desk by the shopping carts at the entrance to the grocery store section of Migros and tell them you want to sign up. It is free (all you need is to give them your name and address) and Migros will send you the card. Then if you swipe it everytime you get groceries you rack up points, and for every x number of points Migros will mail you a 5chf off coupon for your next purchase. Easy way to save a little money while grocery shopping, and it really adds up over a semester, let alone 4 years!" 
All in all, these tips won't save you a lot of money at first, but it definitely adds up over time. I hope this post was helpful, and see you in my next post that is set for release on Friday August 14th 2020! 
A presto,

P.S. Obviously there are many things I wish I knew as a freshman, but turns out a lot has already been covered on this blog. I have compiled a list of great posts from this blog that gives more information about life at FUS. I remember feeling so restless and excited as a incoming freshman, so here are some posts to get through if anyone is feeling the same way! 

The Ultimate Packing List: 
Jonathan posted on a packing list specific to COVID-19, but this is the ultimate packing list post that EVERY Franklin student should read. There are many posts from the rich history of this blog that I plan to update, but not this one. This list covers virtually everything, and it will stand the test of time. 

Key Words and Phrases to Know in the Major Swiss Languages  
Switzerland has 4 major languages, so it's very important to know some basic phrases. Check the post out to discover some helpful phrases in Italian, German and French, which may just help you out in the future!
"Every Franklin student knows the value of picking up a few words of the many languages they encounter — and when it comes to getting around in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, where Franklin is located, it's definitely useful to have some terms at hand." -Gabrielle, circa 2016

Sustainability on Campus: 
Find out all about public transportation, recycling, shopping more sustainably, and the FUS garden in this post! 

Swiss Cities in Depth: Lugano
If you're gonna go to Franklin, you should learn a few things about
 Lugano :)

Top Five Resources for Prospective Students: 
A great read for anyone looking into FUS! It does need some updating so I will do that before graduating :) The nice thing is that all the links are still working!

All About the LLLS Program:
Did you know you can gain working experience while attending FUS? Find out more in this post! 

10 things I've learned while at FUS:
Some great insights into what life is like as an FUS student.

All About Transportation:
So yes, some things need updating on this post, but most of the information is still super relevant. This provides all the insight into travel via bus, train, and planes. 

Advice about Franklin Q&A:
The first 2 writers of this blog (Jessica and Morgan) graduate, and share their insights to future and current FUS students. 

A Definitive Guide to Course Registration! 
Fun fact, I wrote this post! I offer my 2 cents for course registration/academic plans from my extensive knowledge as a 2-time Academic Mentor. 

Housing 102: The Ultimate (and UPDATED) Guide on FUS Dorms! 

Fun fact, I also wrote this post! A gigantic post that covers pretty much everything you would want to know about FUS dorms from my extensive knowledge gained from giving tours for Admissions for 2 years. 


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