Top 5 Places to Study Biology Abroad

by Dylan Livingston

Biology, the study of life, is an excellent subject to study abroad because of the exposure you gain to different species and ecosystems. Life on Earth consists of a wide range of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms that can be found on all corners of the world. In order to begin to understand the vastness of living organisms in this world, it is greatly beneficial to first get an idea for the immensity of the world itself through travel.

While the common saying goes, “It’s a small world,” it may be more appropriate to say, “it’s a connected world.”

When studying biology abroad, especially on the micro level, the world we live in can seem infinitely large, yet also possess common themes that exist within all life and environments.
Aldabra tortoise in the Galapagos Islands

Aldabra tortoise in the Galapagos Islands

Travel is a key component to realizing the connectivity of life. So by studying abroad and observing the traits shared amongst life forms in different parts of the world, you will come to notice certain similarities expressed through common patterns. You will then be able to apply these discovered commonalities to your studies of biology, no matter where your trip takes you.

No matter where you choose to study biology abroad, you are sure to gain a newfound understanding and appreciation for the subject. Here are five places that are known for having rich biodiversity, providing you with ample educational opportunities within the field of biology.

1. The Galapagos Islands

Relatively uninhabited by people up until the mid 1900s, the Galapagos Islands are home to a very rich wildlife that has continued to exist mostly untainted for years; hence, the reason scientists have flocked to the Galapagos Islands for the past two hundred years to study the islands’ vast biodiversity. Most notably, Charles Darwin conducted the majority of his observations and research in the Galapagos Islands before publishing The Origin of Species. When studying biology in the Galapagos Islands, you will very likely have the opportunity to encounter a new species of plant or animal during each day of your program and every day will present you with the opportunity to venture into an unknown land, which will allow you to develop your knowledge of biology.

2. Brazil

Brazil is commonly referred to as the lungs of the Earth, because of the Amazon jungle which encompasses about half of the country’s land mass. The Amazon also holds the most biodiversity in the world, making it a giant melting pot of life and a great location to study biology abroad. It is likely that much of your time studying biology in Brazil will be spent doing direct field study, thanks to the easy accessibility to various ecosystems. In addition to research related to biology, you will also have the chance to study concepts related to botany, earth sciences, ecology, and environmental management and sustainability. Brazil is the perfect location for taking biology coursework outside of the classroom and applying it to real life organisms and ecosystems, as you’ll have the chance to venture through the vast rural countryside.

A beach in Brazil

A beach in Brazil

3. Australia

Australia is another study abroad hot spot for budding biologists. Home to an abundance of wildlife, a range of species can be found across the country and its coastlines. With the Great Barrier Reef covering about half of Australia’s eastern Pacific coast, the nation has developed an expertise in the study of marine biology specifically. Studying biology near the Great Barrier Reef will not only give you the chance to study thousands of indigenous marine organisms, but you will also be able to gain valuable knowledge through some of the nation’s top academic institutions at the center of Australian marine biodiversity. Not to mention, Australia is also one of the most popular locations for American affiliate universities.

4. Costa Rica

From volcanic mountains to rainforests and tropical islands, Costa Rica is home to a variety of ecosystems and biological life, making it one of the top locations to study biology abroad. Also, due to Costa Rica’s central positioning, between the northern temperate zone and the southern tropics, it features a blend of exotic, somewhat hybrid biological specimens. While many of these more exotic species are endangered as a result of human influence, the country remains flourishing with numerous species of amphibians, reptiles, and birds. In fact, Costa Rica is home to one of the world’s most diverse bird populations, with roughly 850 species of birds present within the nation’s borders. What makes Costa Rica unique from other countries is that you don’t have to travel far to experience diverse ecosystems; in fact, you can study the tropical coast, the dense rainforest lowlands, and volcanic highlands in Costa Rica without ever getting into a car. With an array of wildlife and preserved, uninhabited land, there is no shortage of opportunities to study biology and experience the thriving life of Costa Rica!

Puerto Golfito, Costa Rica

Puerto Golfito, Costa Rica

5. Semester at Sea

Rather than choosing one biologically diverse location to study biology abroad, you can experience a variety of ecosystems and species by visiting multiple destinations through a biology study abroad program at sea. By spending a semester studying biology aboard a ship, you will have the opportunity to visit multiple countries and experience multiple cultures, as well as travel and study alongside students from all over the world. As you gain insight into new cultures, you will also develop a greater understanding of biology on a more global scale. Studying biology at sea is the perfect opportunity to witness a large portion of the field firsthand and learn to analyze the subject through multiple cultural lenses.

Biology is a field that encompasses many subgroups, but each subgroup can be traced back to the fundamental desire to study and understand life, in every form.

By traveling and studying biology abroad, you will acquire new biological knowledge and expand your understanding of the field as a whole. As you study biology abroad, you may discover that the desire to live and enjoy life is a common desire shared across the world, and one that should not be stifled.