Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous: 5 Celebrities Who Studied Abroad

by Lianna Salva

The biggest question study abroad students face is how will living and studying in another country impact my career? For those who fear it will put them behind, fear not! Here are five celebrities who used their study abroad experience to make successful careers:

Chris Pine poses for a picture during a visit to Kuwait in 2009 after he and other cast members gave soldiers a sneak peak to the Star Trek movie.
Chris Pine poses for a picture during a visit to Kuwait in 2009 after he and other cast members gave soldiers a sneak peak to the Star Trek movie. Photo by Spc. Howard Ketter

1. Anderson Cooper (Journalist/TV Personality) - University of Hanoi, Vietnam 

While he had no formal education in journalism, Anderson Cooper is one of the most successful journalists in the world. Cooper began his love for traveling at an early age when he graduated high school early and went on a “survival trip” through Africa. After graduating from Yale with a B.A. in Political Science, Cooper traveled independently going to any country that had conflict or a story to tell. He studied Vietnamese language at the University of Hanoi in Vietnam for a year, during which he reported on Vietnamese life and culture that aired on Channel One, a news source for junior and senior high schools in America. To this day, Cooper takes any opportunity to travel all over the world and report on often dangerous situations. 

2. Vera Wang (Fashion Designer) - University of Paris, France 

Vera Wang’s bridal gowns, among her other clothing and home designs, are worn by celebrities as well as the every day woman. Her success as a designer is known far and wide, but before that she was an average college student at Sarah Lawrence College studying Art History. In her sophomore year, Wang studied abroad at the University of Paris; Paris has been one of the fashion capitals of the world for as long as anyone can remember. Wang went on to be a senior fashion editor for Vogue magazine, a design director at Ralph Lauren, and designer of bridal gowns, evening and business wear, accessories, and housewares.

3. Chris Pine (Actor)  - University of Leeds, United Kingdom  

American actor Chris Pine got his B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley and studied abroad for one year at the University of Leeds in Leeds, England. He described in an interview with Digital Spy that being an English major at Leeds was a freeing experience where he was encouraged to make his academics his own. Pine is well known as Captain James T. Kirk in the most recent Star Trek films. Pine also starred in an independent film with Alan Rickman called Bottle Shock that may be of interest to students wanting to know more about the differences between American and French wine culture

4. Gael García Bernal (Actor) - Central School of Speech and Drama, London, UK 

Gael García Bernal came from a family of actors and started acting when he was an infant. While starring in many Mexican soap operas, García Bernal was an International Baccalaureate student. He attended Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México as a student of philosophy until the college was closed due to a strike. García Bernal then left for London to attend the University of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama to study acting. He was the first person from Mexico to be accepted into the program.  Garcia Bernal has become one of the most popular people in Latino film through roles that include Oscar nominated Amores Perros (his debut work) and the Che Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries. 

5. Reed Hastings (Founder of Netflix) - Peace Corps, Swaziland 

In an interview in Fortune Magazine, Reed Hastings answered questions about his business model for the most popular and ever addicting video streaming and renting company, Netflix. When asked about raising his risk tolerance to a point of being independent and comfortable, Hastings went straight to his time in the Peace Corps. “...Once you have hitchhiked across Africa with ten bucks in your pocket, starting a business doesn't seem too intimidating,” he said, showcasing the confident attitude that many study abroad returnees gain. 

Hastings graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Mathematics, after which he taught high school math in Swaziland through the Peace Corps. After the Corps, Hastings got his master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. Without knowing if customers would even like the idea, Hastings and business partner Marc Randolph took their chances in an age when internet was just a toddler compared to what it is now.