Dollar Daze

Nate Purinton ’06 never had a reason to get a campus job — until he wanted to study in increasingly pricey Europe. Indeed, the feeble U.S. dollar vs. the euro was the talk of the junior class last winter.

“We tell them,” says Associate Dean of Students Steve Sawyer, “when it comes to stuff like clothing and electronics, take ’em with you. Don’t buy in Europe.”

Two years ago, students traveling to Europe could buy a euro for just 88 cents. By the time Purinton headed to Rennes, France, in January, the euro had soared to about $1.30.

As Purinton toiled his last few hours in the Communications office last semester, he was stressed about not having bought his Eurailpass yet. Traveling around Europe, a study-abroad bonus, “is going to be the deciding factor in how much this is going to cost me,” he shrugged.

The dollar’s weakness costs the College, too, since Bates is the rare school that provides financial aid to its study-abroad students. “Program fees are in euros, so when the dollar is weak our financial aid commitment increases,” says Sawyer, head of the study-abroad program.

His other advice? Go east, young men and women. “Poland and Hungary are inexpensive, offer great academic programs, and are away from the herds of American students in Western Europe,” he says.