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Buying or Renting Books in the USA as a Study Abroad/International Student

Going on a Study Abroad to America? Read My Advice on Buying and Renting Books!

The Library at CSU! My place of study abroad!

Unlike England, in the USA, if you are at University you usually have to buy the books regardless of whether you can find them online or not. As an English and creative writing student, I had to buy novels and poetry books (noting that I could get copies of these poems online), BUT a lot of books in the USA have a code on the inside that allows you to access important content online which allows you to complete homework/assessments. 

I had to get about eight books and it cost me about $100, but I know if you take Science or Math, you may be paying a lot of money for a textbook, so be aware of this and put it in your budget. They can be very expensive and this is something that people tend to forget about and just expect it to be like the UK where you can sometimes get away with reading the book online. I would suggest talking to your lecturers and asking them if you do need the book for online homework. If you don't, then perhaps they will tell you that you don't need to buy a book. In that case, you won't waste money, so email your lecturers or ask them at the beginning of classes. Something else they might suggest is sharing a book with someone else in the class. Most people I am sure would be okay with this but remember that they have most probably paid for the book and may not find it fair to let you use it for free. 

The books I got were also rented. Even if you want to rent the books, you still have to pay a considerable price. I honestly think it is too much money but the average student will usually pay about $500 a semester for books that they need for their courses. 

Of course you can rent books from the library, however don't expect them to have it in. They sometimes only have a limited number of copies and the University that I attended could not order them in.

Find your course material early if you can, if not at the start of the semester when classes start, head to the bookstore or order from Amazon. The bookstore at CSU did price match books and they will buy books back off you IF you had BOUGHT them from the store instead of renting. I would advise to rent though, as it is cheaper and you aren't going to want to take the books back in your suitcase.

Another tip I would give, is that when you know what books you need, order them ASAP. Students will be busy trying to get the books and sometimes the campus might run out of stock, leaving you waiting and you don't want to be that person. My bookstore was okay with ordering books in but I had to wait a while for a couple of them and then by the time I got them I was very far behind and most of my time went to catching up on the work that I had not yet read.

You could always try and look on Amazon for the books that you are wishing to buy, but remember that you need them early. Students get a free prime membership if you put in what University you are at so you could try this. I ended up buying some from the bookstore because I was not told that students could get a Prime membership, so please take the advice and get an account because it is very useful. 

Just remember to ask your lecturer first and see if you need them. As a study abroad student, I personally think it is pointless buying the books because then you have to get rid of them before you leave, but unfortunately, most of the time you do have to pay. Before I left I took them back to the bookstore and they bought them back from me but it wasn't for a lot, it was actually much less for what I actually paid for them! 

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