Top 10 Study Abroad Destinations for 2017

by Julia Zaremba

There’s probably a good reason (or, rather, a lot of ‘em) that most of the world is interested in spending their study abroad time in one of the following ten countries. Whether it is a superb price:service ratio, the personality of the locals, world-renowned education standards, or a special landscape you just can’t find anywhere else on the planet (Cappadocia, anyone?!), these are the countries to visit if you’re ready for a good time with your education pursuits. From gelatos to mochis, we’ve got you covered.

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

1. Italy

With its amazing food, sexy language, beautiful art, and dynamic history, Italy is the most sought-after destination for aspiring study abroad students. Programs have a unique blend of Italian cultural studies and courses in a variety of majors from business to fine arts.

Pros: Most programs require little to no Italian language study, making Italy accessible to students. Also, there’s the cinematic landscapes, iconic historical sites in every corner, and gelatos in colors you didn’t even know existed.

Cons: Not learning the national language makes integrating into the local culture difficult- and this is one culture you don’t want to miss out on. And while eating all that gelato is not necessarily your waist line’s best friend, it works wonders for the soul.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

2. Spain

Spain boasts historic festivals, siestas, and flamenco dancers. And a lot more than just the stereotypical stuff; there’s also great hikes all over the country, fabulous beaches for all beach variety types, and an endless variety of jamón serrano. Each year thousands of students journey to Spain to learn Spanish (duh!) and to take classes in international business, European studies, and more.

Pros: The diversity of programs guarantees housing and classroom conditions right up your personal alley. The demographic of study abroad students will be very diverse- but if you just wanna kick back with the locals over a glass of sangria, no worries. The people of this country love nothing more than to chat, share food, and soak up the sun.

Cons: Spain is so popular among US students that it’s sometimes hard to immerse in the local culture. Students need to be intentional about going off the beaten path and outside their comfort zones; go for some tapas with locals, take day trips to little villages, and get to know your community.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

London, England

London, England

3. England

Not sure if it's England’s historical ties with so many parts of the world… or David Beckham’s profile…or the quirky jargon…or Harry Potter’s castle…but for some reason, students just love studying abroad in this country.

Pros: Ideal for students who’ve never been out of the country, England offers a more subtle foray into the world of cultural differences. English is spoken everywhere (even if there are local dialects you can pick up if you’re up for the challenge!) and finding your favorite brands from back home probably won’t be an issue here.

Cons: It might be just a bit too “easy” for students seeking a dramatically different cultural experience. Also, the UK is expensive; there’s no getting around that. If cost is a concern, students should look for programs outside of London for more affordable options.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

4. France

From the dazzling city lights and sights of Paris to the coastal sun and fun of the French Riviera, students love the romanticism of France. That’s not even getting into the fashion statements or culinary adventures. La vie en rose.

Pros: Programs are available in such diverse locations as cosmopolitan Paris or medieval Avignon, with options in either French or English. You can choose for yourself how challenging the next semester is going to be. We already mentioned the fancy foods and lyricism of the language, right?

Cons: Even if you chose to enroll in a program taught in English, some prior French language study is highly recommended, especially if you are living outside of the main centers. Be aware that occasional union protests can shut the country down. But hey, it’s all part of the experience.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

5. Germany

Maybe because Germany is home to the world famous Oktoberfest and the Neuschwanstein Castle (Disney’s inspiration), but there’s no denying that students are drawn to the many pleasures of German culture and its world-class education.

Pros: This is a great place to study business, hard sciences, and German (natürlich). It’s also a great place for academic internships, with headquarters of some of the world’s biggest companies and dedication to innovation. Inside and outside of the classroom, efficiency is high, so there’s no need to waste time with bureaucratic inconveniences.

Cons: Some prior German study is recommended, though many programs offer a combination of German language and courses taught in English. The best of both worlds!

Particularly Awesome Programs:

6. Australia

From snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to hiking in the Outback and exploring metropolitan Sydney, thousands of students fly south to visit the land down under: Australia. And feel like they’re on top of the world.

Pros: Australia is home to some of the best universities in the world. Here, students can study practically every major, but star topics include business, humanities, and all of the science fields. In your free time, get a tan, chase some wild critters, and hit those Bondi Blue waters.

Cons: Being in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s academic calendar is opposite to that of North America/Europe. This can be a bummer for students with seasonal commitments back home (such as sports and summer internships). At the same time, this offers the possibility of a year-long summer, so it’s not all bad.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

Native house in Japan

7. Japan

With beautiful zen-like architecture, some of the world’s most high-tech gadgets, and sushi, Japan offers students a wonderfully rich culture to explore. Take a twirl under the cherry blossom trees and learn the elegant draw of this little archipelago.

Pros: Japan has the perfect intersection of modern conveniences (check out the shinkansen, Japan’s crazy-fast train) and historical surroundings (nearly every city has an ancient Buddhist temple), so whether you’re a modern manga fan or an ancient samurai warrior, there’s something just for you.

Cons: Japan can be pretty expensive, even if you’re not pigging out on fancy sushi every night. Draft up a budget plan, and try to learn at least some of the basics of the Japanese language before crossing the pond.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

8. China

Students flock to study in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong for the competitive advantage it will bring to their resumes. Outside of the classroom, there’s weekend mass migrations to famous sites like the Great Wall or Terracotta Warriors.

Pros: Being the largest emerging economy in the world, language ability in Mandarin or Cantonese gives students a competitive edge in the job market. You’ll also be able to see first-hand how intricately China is involved in the global market (and to eat all of the tasty treats).

Cons: Some students can experience some culture shock due to dramatically different language and cultural perspectives. Which, looking back, can also be the highlight of the experiences, so let yourself dive in deep. Don’t forget to carry around a spare face mask if you’re living in a bigger city.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

La Casa Rosada, Argentina

La Casa Rosada, Argentina

9. Argentina

Argentina is an amazing experience from end to end; learning tango in metropolitan Buenos Aires, exploring the wine country of Mendoza, hiking Patagonia, and viewing one of the most expansive waterfalls in the world, Iguazu Falls.

Pros: If you like dining on fine steak and sipping bold wine every night, you will not be disappointed. If you get jittery in the classroom, just throw on a pair of hiking boots and point your finger at the next geographic wonder you’d like to tackle.

Cons: The expansive landscape can be a challenge for anyone wanting to see each part of this beautiful country; focus in on specific areas (or just stay longer!). With strong Italian influences, expect some variety from that high school Spanish you’re bringing with you.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

10. Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s balance of rugged outdoor adventure and cultural urban flair is the perfect destination for a truly unique study abroad experience. And once you’ve broken the South American barrier, use this country as a base for other countries that are a little bit more under-the-radar. If you will be able to pull yourself away from the pura vida, that is.

Pros: With a balance of Latin American culture and American tourism, the ease of (cheap!) travel is great. If you want to learn Spanish, this is the place.

Cons: An abundance of foreign traffic prices in some of the touristic places. Learn the going rate of basic items, learn how to haggle (it’s all about the cultural immersion, ‘yo!), and don’t let yourself get lured into tourist traps.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

Drastic in their cultural, language, and social differences, there is also a unifying factor to this list: they’re great, and they’re ready for you and your school transcripts. Whether you’re craving a jungle adventure, a posh tea party, a culinary revolution, or some mental serenity (or E: All of the above), there is the perfect country just waiting to be explored…inside and outside of the classroom.

Surfers walking on a beach in Costa Rica

SURPRISE! Study Abroad Scholarships Spring & Summer 2017

Now that you’re feeling ultra inspired, we want to help make sure you can find (and do!) the study abroad program of your dreams. Since cash-flow can be a major hurdle, here are some ways to offset the $tre$$ (and instead ignite the excitement!).

Find more 42 MORE study abroad scholarships here.