Popularity Rules: 5 Countries Students Can’t Resist For Study Abroad

by John Kyle de Guzman

Making the decision to study abroad is the easy part, the benefits clearly outweigh the financial costs. The difficult decisions comes after, which country has the best university for your chosen field of study? What country would be the most enjoyable for you, culturally, academically, and environmentally? These questions consistently linger in the minds of students who are contemplating study abroad.

With over 200 countries to choose from, students will often spend days, weeks, or even months making a final decision. The endless amount of choices can sometimes be overwhelming, leaving students feeling indecisive or worse yet leading them to abandon the idea of studying abroad altogether.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Photo credit to Michelle Dugger

So, here is our advice: start with popular destinations, weigh the pros and cons, program options, and cultural fit, and you'll be able to easily narrow down the possibilities!

Italy

In Bocca al Lupo, il Lupo! This Italian phrase is a student favorite. Used to wish good luck before an exam, it literally means “in the wolf’s mouth.” However, you don't need luck, nor a wolf, to study abroad in Italy. Known for academic excellence in the arts, Italy is also an ideal place to study classics and literature. Italy’s top-ranked university, the Universita di Bologna, is one of the top choices for international students studying abroad in Italy. One of the first universities ever established, the nation’s continued leadership in higher education is apparent at the Universita di Bologna. Italy’s top universities are vastly spread across the country, Rome, Florence, Pisa, making options plentiful and varied.

International students have the opportunity to explore the most attractive part of the country: Italian culture. With the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world, enjoy the immense legacy of monuments, paintings, music, and literature that were completed by the best architects, artists, and scholars during the Middle Ages and Renaissance eras. Students can experience Italy’s most treasured sports, futbol and Formula One. Watch a FIFA World Cup and join the frenzied chants of the locals, or submerge themselves in the roaring sounds of thunder and speed junkies of Formula One. Fashion fanatics can sit down and enjoy the styles of an Italian fashion show in Milan, Florence, and of course Rome, the true fashion capital of the world. Every student must indulge in the luscious bona fide Italian cuisines too, pizza, pasta, gelato, and espresso, like they’ve never tasted before.

Spain

Estudio en España a banderas desplegadas! Study in Spain with flying colors! Who wouldn’t want to study in a country where handfuls of universities are part of the top 500 universities in the world? Madrid, Spain’s capital city, and Barcelona, the nation’s second largest city, are by far the most highly populated with these prestigious institutions. Spain’s many cultural centers make it the perfect place to study a range of subjects, from architecture and art history to linguistics and religious studies. Even more advantageous in Spain, learning the Spanish language, the world’s second universal language.

Spain, home to the traditional Valencian dish Paella, is famously known for its cuisine. Consisting of a variety of cultural influences, there are three divisions of Spanish cuisine, Mediterranean, Inner, and Atlantic. Flourishing festivals abound in Spain, including the Running of the Bulls and Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a place where a festival is not complete without music and dancing. Known for an emotionally intensified proud carriage, an expressive use of the arms, and rhythmic stamping of feet, the Flamenco is Spain’s signature dance, inevitably apparent at festivals. 

Li River, Guilin, China

Li River, China

China

Hua Long Dian Jīng. In English, “draw a dragon and add eyes”, this Chinese saying means to add a key item that enhances something. Why not enhance your academics by adding studying abroad in China to your list of experiences? The world’s second largest economy, China has invested heavily in education aiming to bring hundreds of Chinese universities up to a world-class standard. The most elite group of universities in China, the C9 group, are committed to world-class excellence, including the prominent Peking University and Tsinghua. Known for its strong economic prowess, it is advisable to take courses related to economics and business. Taking courses in subjects such as medicine, cultural studies, and history, in China will also be extremely beneficial for international students.

The world’s most populous country, China is home to one of the oldest cultures in the world. Emerging in 2000 BCE, the nation is overflowing with traditions and classic regional customs. One cultural characteristic recognized worldwide is Chinese cuisine, said to be one of Asia’s best. From dumplings to shark fins, and guobacai to siomai, anyone can be astonished by the unique flavor offerings of genuine Chinese dishes. China’s ancient history is reflected in famous architectural marvels, like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City.

England

Have a riot in England. This English idiom means enjoying life and having a good time, two things many students look for when studying abroad. Home to some of the oldest and most respected universities on the planet, England gives students the chance to study at some of the top ten universities in the world, including the University of Cambridge and Oxford University. Students can rest assured that nearly any program for any subject is available somewhere in the country, where a shortage of university options is hardly ever an issue. 

With limitless historical scenes, vast areas of impressive natural beauty, and a famous royal past and present, England gives students a taste of history, literature, and diversity in a comforting world of English speakers. Students can experience the fervor of the region’s most popular sports, cricket, futbol, and tennis, or relax into the typical British hobby of drinks and chatter with friends at a local pub.

Paris, France

Paris, France

Photo credit to Niya Johnson

France

Coup de Foudre Avec la France. Literally translated as “Lightening strike with France”, it means to fall in love with France at first sight. Yet another nation with some of the world’s leading universities, one of the many draws for study abroad. Students can expect high quality learning from some of Europe’s strongest institutes, like Ecole Normale Superieure and Ecole Polytechnique ParisTech. As in most of Europe, the study of music, history, art, and architecture is common in France, where students can learn from interactions with the culture that surrounds them on a daily basis.

France has been the main cultural influence in the West for centuries. Some of the most renowned artists in history came from France, inspired by the beauty of the culture and the land, providing students with countless works of art to help shape their own artistic talents and making France the perfect place for studying art abroad. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a country where two infamous cities are fondly referred to as the City of Lights and the City of Love.