5 Exotic Destinations for Study Abroad

by Megan Lee

WARNING: This article will not be interesting to students who tend to follow the norm or fear veering off the beaten path. If you've already decided you want to study abroad somewhere über familiar and comfortable like everybody else, save yourself the five minutes and bypass this article. We won’t be offended.

Now that we've "separated the men from the boys," lets get down to business. Time and again, my post-study abroad friends in college cited one major regret for their time abroad: the fact that they wish they had gone somewhere..."cooler." Sure, they LOVED traipsing about Western Europe, collecting passport stamps a-plenty, and dining on fine wine and cheese on the 'reg. They also LOVED the friends they made and the classes they took. But before long, they realized how awesome it would have been to use their study abroad semester as an opportunity to experience a far-out place.

Himba Tribe of Namibia

Himba Tribe of Namibia

Want to take your studies abroad to the next level? Consider studying abroad in a more exotic destination. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Namibia

This southern African gem of a country has political stability, English as a national language, and a natural landscape more vastly beautiful than you can even picture from your seat right now. For students keen to learn more about social justice, human rights, the legacies of colonization, or about a continent oft-spoken of like a country ("Why yes, I've been to India, China, and Africa" - sound familiar?), Namibia is for you.

There's also a ton of fun to be had, too. A beautiful coastline, the world's largest sand dunes, elephants, zebras, and lions - the big 5 all call Namibia home. Study abroad students here certainly won't get bored.

2. Mongolia

Speaking of beautiful expanse with little human interruption, the country of Mongolia is an awesome fit for study abroad. Programs in this north Asian country often study nomadic peoples, the distribution of natural resources, and what is sacrificed in the name of globalization of the planet. Live in a yurt, witness a sky burial, smell the sweet scent of the grassy plains. And dine on mutton; lots and lots of mutton.

Study abroad in Mongolia is not for the faint of heart. Especially if you're a student in need of SPACE, you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else on the planet with enough of it to go around.

Camel ride in Morocco

Camel ride in Morocco

3. Morocco

The best of Arabia, Africa, and Spanish cultures collide in this unique sliver of Northern Africa. Gain firsthand exposure to working Muslim-Christian relations, take in the sights (and more importantly, the smells) of exotic spice markets, learn the Arabic language, re-enact your favorite scene from Casablanca, the list goes on and on.

It’s a combination of a vastly different culture, safety and stability, and easy access to western Europe (just in case you want to hop into Spain for a few days!), that makes Morocco an increasingly popular destination for study abroad students.

4. Iceland

Eclectic music, hot springs up the wazoo, cool volcanoes, and potential Santa sightings are all fair game in Iceland. If we haven't convinced you already, you should seriously consider studying abroad in Iceland during college. Whether you're interested in resource management, renewable energies, sustainability, or something entirely less science-y (like tapping into their killer arts programs!), there's a study abroad program in Iceland for you.

It is rare for a student to leave this ironically-green island without seeing a penguin, and rarer still for a student to leave disappointed.

Island of Cayo Levantado in Dominican Republic

Island of Cayo Levantado in Dominican Republic

5. The Caribbean

Sun, surf, sand. Need we say more?

All "s" words aside, the Caribbean is an oft-overlooked study abroad destination - chalk it up to its close proximity to our fine country. No matter if you pronounce it Caribbean or Caribbean (dang, that doesn’t have quite the effect in written versus spoken word), you can learn more about U.S. history vis-a-vis slave trade, study interesting folk and animistic religions, learn about fragile ecosystems and marine life, and maybe even catch the beachy, vibey, laid back attitude that so many islanders seem to embody. Your only real challenge will be keeping the sand out of your pants (and your textbooks!).Whether studying abroad in Europe makes you yawn or you're just looking to add a dose of adventure to your life, consider one of these five exotic destinations for study abroad.

Just don't brag too much about your awesome experience when you return, ka-peesh? We get travel envy easily.