Best Places to Go Abroad
Because we live in a world that continually impresses in terms of cultural and natural diversity, it is truly tragic for us to not do everything in our power to explore it. For this reason, study abroad programs offer the perfect opportunity for students of all majors and travel aspirations to head beyond the comfort zone of their college town, and overseas to an array of unmatched experiences. Granted, there is a plethora of other countries for a collegiate to choose from than the several listed below. Let this list serve as a mere guide, meant to scratch the surface of all the inspiring places across the globe.
Welcome to Australia, with the Blue Mountains, Great Barrier Reef, cities filled to the brim with culture and creativity, and coasts along both the Indian and Pacific oceans. Varied with natural and urban attractions, it is impossible for one to not connect with the Aussie culture in some way. Not only is the country immense, it is also varied both geographically and city-wise. Whether one desires to take in a performance at the Sydney Opera House or trek beside Ayers Rock, the adventure possibilities in Australia are endless.
If you choose to study abroad in the Land Down Under, there is a multitude of options to choose from. Depending on the program, the study abroad dates range from a semester, summer, or even a blissful year embracing the Aussie life. Schools such as Macquarie University or the University of New South Wales offer excellent programs. Keep in mind, however, that the fall semester starts in July and ends in November and that the spring semester starts in mid-February and ends in early July. This tends to throw people off.
Also, take note that the seasons in Australia are reversed. When it is winter in the states, it is summer in the Land Down Under, and so forth. If you are concerned with graduating on time, or simply cannot fit in an entire semester or year abroad into your schedule, there are certain winter term or summer internship options. My friend and I are currently enrolled to study abroad in Sydney during our winter break (Winterim 2016/17) through the University of Steven’s Point and I highly recommend considering that as an option.
Though I may be biased due to being a Polish girl and having visited Poland several times throughout my twenty-one years to explore my heritage and visit family and friends, I can assure you that Poland does not receive enough credit as a study abroad destination.
For a relatively small European country, Poland boasts a population of nearly forty million people and a selection of cities laden with both historical value and modernization. Traditionally, most study abroad programs take place in Warsaw or Crakow. Taking the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s option, for instance, students can study abroad through CIEE Central European Studies in Warsaw during either a fall or spring semester.
Doubling as the capitol, as well as significant cultural hub of Poland, Warsaw does not disappoint students who want a well-rounded study abroad experience in Poland. Make sure to visit the Starowka, Nowy Swiat, and the Palac Kultury i Nauki, as well as ample pierogarnias and the Arkadia shopping center.
Despite the fact that the majority of study abroad programs in Poland are based in Warsaw, take advantage of the excellent public transportation systems and make sure to take field trips to other destinations such as Zakopane, the Baltic coast, and Crakow.
Take a picture by the Neptune Fountain in Gdansk’s Town Hall and journey on a Sopot pier as the sea breeze ruffles your hair. Hike the Tatry mountain trails and dance to góral music. Visit Kraków’s Market Square and Wawel Castle.
Keep calm and enjoy Polska.
Though most people flock to other Mediterranean countries in Europe, such as Italy or Spain, allow me to take you on a journey into the underrated gem that is Croatia.
I first visited Croatia five years ago for a sailing camp. Upon first glance at the pristine turquoise waters, coastal cliffs, and relaxed residents conversing on their porches in the scorching sunlight, it was not difficult in the slightest to fall in love with the Dalmatian Coast, and Croatia as a whole.
Most commonly, study abroad programs are based in Dubrovnik, a picturesque, dynamic city along the Dalmatian Coast boasting a living, breathing collage of Croatian history and culture.
The API study abroad program in Dubrovnik gives students the chance to explore “one of the best ten walled cities in the world”, according to the API Study Abroad site. Common attractions in Dubrovnik include exploring the walls of Dubrovnik, Mljet (the beach and parks region of the city), and the Old Town.
More adventurous visitors can take a cable car around the city or even take a ferry to a nearby island, such as Lokrum or Korcula.
In regards to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s programs, every summer, students have the option of studying abroad in Rovinj, where the academic concentration is titled “Conflict and Culture”. Rovinj is nothing short of fitting for this coursework, due to it being a “border zone”, or combination of Italian, German, and Slavic traditions and history.
- Costa Rica
Not only is Costa Rica an excellent place for students to interact and engage in cultural practices and improve their Spanish, it differs from other Spanish-speaking countries in that it is a more natural attractions based country.
In Costa Rica, you won’t find too many major metropolises other than the capitol of San José. Instead, Costa Rica is a brilliant place to study abroad if you have an interest in natural science, biology, or ecotourism in general.
While there are several program options in San José, there is an array academic options to choose from in smaller towns such as Monteverde and Atenas, with concentrations in physical science, biology, and/or Spanish literature and civilization.
Along with conversing with local Costa Rican people and advancing Spanish language skills, students can hike alongside the Arenal Volcano, visit both the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts, surf the acclaimed waves at Jaco Beach, and relax after classes at Tabacon Hot Springs.
- South Africa
With a mix of urban, as well as natural attractions, South Africa offers the best of both worlds for students who want to experience both enchanting city centers and the allure of the wilderness. Many- if not most- study abroad programs in South Africa are based in Cape Town and last anywhere from a summer session to a calendar year.
Should a student choose the Cape Town option, common class options consist of African-American studies, political science, geography, history, and anthropology. Aside from classes, Cape Town offers an incredible range of activities to choose from and it is boredom is impossible. From catching a cable car up Table Mountain to shark cage diving, Cape Town has an attraction for every want and personality type.
In addition to Cape Town, there is also a great deal of programs in Johannesburg. Students will take classes in global health, economics, and food. In between classes, the attractions in Johannesburg are endless- whether you choose to go shop, eat out, or go on a freedom tour, all options will lead to cultural fascination and knowledge.
- Quebec City, Quebec (Canada)
Last summer, I had the privilege of partaking in a week-long French language immersion course in Quebec City, Quebec and I would heavily recommend the program to anyone seeking both an intense language learning experience, as well as a program that allows for time flexibility.
Though many- if not most- students studying French choose to study abroad in France, I would actually advise against doing so. There are so many other francophone regions worth exploring and the French language goes far beyond the boundaries of France.
Even though Montreal is a much larger city than Quebec City, I would advise not heading to Montreal for a French language immersion program, as the city is technically bilingual (French and English, aka creating the temptation to stray from speaking French), whereas Quebec City is technically French-speaking only.
The École Quebec Monde is a foreign language school located in downtown Quebec City and the program consists of four hours a day of French classes. Students are placed in the appropriate class according to the skill level demonstrated in their placement tests taken before the program’s start date.
Another benefit to the École Quebec Monde French language immersion program is the homestay setup. Students are automatically paired with a host family with the written consent that French will be spoken at all times. It may sound harsh, but the only way to advance in a foreign language is to speak it consistently and not take the easy way out by speaking your first language.
Aside from going to classes on Monday through Friday, students have ample time to discover all that Quebec City has to offer. From going to creperies, the Musée de la civilization, la Citadelle de Quebec, to admiring la Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City has an impressive selection of sights, and this listing only scratches the surface.
One of my closest friends was actually born in Taiwan. She was also a child model, but we’ll get to that another time. Unfortunately, she was not able to visit and actually see Taiwan from the eyes of someone other than a toddler until last spring when she flew seventeen hours to go back to the land that she first knew.
When able to actually hardcore visit and delve into Taiwanese culture, she fell in love with the place she was born in all over again. According to her, Taiwan is a blend of Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese cultures. She recommends Taiwan as an ideal destination to study the Chinese language, while delving into a country with a plethora of influences from its neighbors.
The majority of study abroad programs in Taiwan take place in the capitol city of Taipei and classes are generally taught in both Chinese and English. An acclaimed study abroad program in Taipei is through CIEE Study Abroad. Through this Taipei-based program, students learn about communications, business practices, politics, and economics.
Outside of the classroom, students have innumerable things to do, such as sampling Taiwanese cuisine, visiting ancient temples or churches, or expanding their knowledge of pop music (huge in Taiwan).
With a soaring population of more than two hundred million people, Samba, exotic beaches, and the Amazon, Brazil boasts an exemplary study abroad destination.
Whether your goal is to perfect you Portuguese language abilities or make it your mission to explore all that this geographically varied country has to offer, studying abroad in Brazil will not disappoint.
In Rio de Janeiro, for instance, there are several note-worthy study abroad programs- one being through the Pontificia Universidade Catolica- Rio Exchange, an affiliated program of the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Through the Universidade Catolica, students can choose to study predominantly in Portuguese or English and take classes ranging from international studies, Portuguese, history, and anthropology. It is an ideal program for students majoring in international studies and/or language studies.
Outside the classroom, Rio offers a learning environment all on its own with several points of interest, like Ipanema, Copacabana, the Maracana Stadium, and Tijuca National Park. Time and money permitting, make it a priority to step out of the city and journey to thrilling destinations like Buzios, Angra dos Reis, and Ilha Grande. Practice your Portuguese with the locals as you explore all of the places Rio and beyond have to offer.
There are many factors to consider in your study abroad decision, ranging from cultural to linguistic preferences. It is never an easy choice, deciding where you want to go, given how many marvelous programs exist, depending on your goals and overall needs.
Granted, there are far more than eight places to choose from when making your final decision to get a VISA and hop out of the country for an academic term. Do your research, buy all the guidebooks you can get your eager hands on, and make sure to do everything that you can to ensure a brilliant time in your country of choice. Good luck and bon voyage!