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The mother of a Chinese college-bound student recently sought help from the online community with regard to how much money she should give her daughter as a monthly stipend. Originally she offered 1,200 yuan ($183.85), but the girl was not satisfied and asked "am I really your daughter?"

A student saves for her college. Photos: CFP and Qi Xijia/GT

Penny-wise and pound-foolish

This story, which has since gone viral on China's Interwebs, stirred heated discussions about how much money students actually need. Should Chinese students have part-time jobs, like many Western students, or have everything paid for by their parents? To address these and other related questions and concerns, the Global Times recently interviewed some foreign students in Shanghai about their differences.

Students study in classroom.

Maria, Russia

In Moscow, my monthly living expense was approximately $345. The major source of my income was from my parents. My scholarship only covers about 15 percent of my monthly expenses. Buying food and eating at canteens and cafes is my highest expenditure, at about 60 to 70 percent. I consider myself to be a penny-wise person when it comes to managing my budget. I do not draw up a specific plan how to spend my monthly budget, but I always pay attention to my account balance so I don't face any financial problems. I am also completely in favor of students doing part-time work if their time allows. Part-time jobs help students gain experience before graduating, which is incredibly valuable for their future employer.

Dang Pooh  

Dang Pooh, Vietnam

I am from Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. There, my monthly living cost was around $150. With this I can live in relatively comfortable circumstances. I can rent a small apartment, catch an Uber to school, treat myself to an expensive restaurant once a month and sometimes take a short holiday somewhere near. All my living costs are covered by my parents. We set a day that I receive my allowance and in the future I will pay it all back. I am in favor of part-time jobs for students. It gives us more experience, more money and more social skills before graduation. Sometimes I do part-time work. I think I'm quite good at balancing my monthly budget. But I still feel I can do better; save more money so I can pay for some skill classes like IELTS, photography or design. I'm practicing being more thrifty.

Tanja, Serbia

I am from Belgrade. The average monthly expenditure for a student in Serbia is 300 euros ($356.82), which covers food and maybe some extras like having fun with your friends. I am sponsored by my parents. I also get a small government scholarship, which is not enough. Food is the most expensive, because you need around five euros per day to eat well. Some students who are not from Belgrade need much more. Rarely can we afford to travel. I am in my fourth year. I spend the same amount as when I was a freshman, but prices are rising so my living costs are also going up.

Tim Schwippel

Tim Schwippel, Germany

I studied at Welfen Akademie in Hamburg. My living expenses there were 1,000 euros, provided by my parents. I am not in favor of students doing part-time work, because otherwise you don't have time for studying. I think you should study when you are in school and then work later on. I spend most of my money on brand clothes, about 300 euros to 400 euros every month. You can't have too many clothes or too many shoes, I think. It is also expensive to eat in Hamburg, but I like to go out to eat because it's more social than just staying at home and eating by yourself.

Desislava Rusulska

Desislava Rusulska, Bulgaria

I am doing a master's program at The University of Edinburgh. I am now exchanged to study in Shanghai for six months. My living cost in Edinburgh was around 100 pounds ($129.23) per week. In the UK, if you go out partying, the clubs cost you the most. If you don't, then food costs you the most. There is no canteen on our campus, so I cooked at home. That makes it cheaper. If you can't bring food to school, it costs between 5 pounds to 15 pounds to dine at a restaurant. My living costs are all covered by my parents. In Bulgaria, parents pay your tuition, accommodations and living expenses as long as you are still studying. Once you get a job, then your parents let you go on your own. My parents give me a big sum that can last me until the end of the semester. I tried to keep a record of my expenditures, but that only lasted a week, then I forgot. I once ran out of money.

John Pearson

John Pearson, the US

I spend $1,500 every month on food, drinks and going out. I spend a lot on social stuff, like going out with friends. It is pretty expensive in the US, like $10 for one drink. I am a junior in college but still live at home. I will be moving out of my home soon and will have to pay my own rent. Usually students move out by the age of 21.

Vladimir Vorozhtcov 

Vladimir Vorozhtcov, Russia

I studied at Vladivostok State University of Economics and Service. I have just graduated and now I am studying at a language program in Shanghai. I spent 7,000 yuan a month back in my hometown, which included a car and a flat. Food was the biggest cost, at around 3,000 yuan. A meal at the campus canteen costs around 50 yuan for some rice, beef and juice. It is much more expensive to dine in a restaurant, but the food is better quality. I cannot cook. All my living expenses are covered by myself. I have had my own business since I was 18. It's connected to seaport construction. In my country, most students have to work to earn their living expenses. It is okay for parents to pay their tuition, but they will not give us money to eat because Russians are strict toward their children.