Top Six Underrated Places to Study Abroad

Study Abroad in KenyaWith over 100 countries offering study abroad programs, studying overseas could not be easier. College cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Paris, Barcelona and Florence have traditionally topped the list of popular places to study abroad, though there many more choices beyond Western Europe.

If you’re interested in studying and expanding your horizons somewhere more adventurous and somewhat underrated, you may want to consider the following places:

Kenya

Kenya is the ultimate African destination for adventure travel, though there’s more to Kenya than wildlife safari vacations. There are a multitude of study abroad programs in Kenya such as Health and Environment studies, intensive Swahili language courses, volunteer projects and cultural exchange programs with ethnic Kenyan tribes such as the Kalenjin people, who are famous for producing Kenya’s finest long-distance runners.

If you’re a hands-on type of person who cares about people, you will enjoy studying abroad in Kenya as most programs are about first-hand learning and taking educational site visits to slums and other underdeveloped areas of Kenya. You will get to do a lot of field excursions and see first hand how clinics, youth centers and non-governmental organizations make a different.

Organizations and universities offering study abroad programs in Kenya include SIT Study Abroad, the Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL), The University of Minnesota, Knowledge Exchange Institute (KEI), Elective Abroad, The School For Field Studies, and Miami University.

Study Abroad in AntarcticaAntarctica

Antarctica may not be on most students’ list of top places to study abroad but Antarctica is certainly one of the most fascinating places you could go to study abroad. Imagine experiencing 24-hour sun (midnight sun) and exploring the most remote areas of Antarctica on an inflatable landing craft. You’ll also get to see up-close glaciers calf, orcas jumping out of the water, penguin colonies and species of animals that you’ve never seen before.

For the trip to Antarctica, you will be first flying out to the Argentinean city of Ushuaia (the southernmost city in the world) and then to the Antarctic Peninsula, where you’ll be setting foot for most of your trip. Aside from exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, you’ll also get a taste of Argentina while in Ushuaia where you’ll get to backpack through the little towns and parks.

Virginia Tech and Oregon State University, as well as the SOI Antarctic University Expedition, and the American Universities International (AUIP) offer study abroad programs in Human Societies and the Natural Environment studies that include fun field trips.

Irkutsk Oblast

If you are interested in Russian, Asian and environmental studies, look no further than the Siberian city of Irkutsk to study abroad. One of the biggest incentives to study in Irkutsk is the opportunity to ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway and explore the world-famous Lake Baikal (the “Blue Pearl of Siberia”), which is the deepest lake in the world.

Don’t let the cold and remoteness of Siberia scare you. Studying abroad in Siberia means experience the parts of Russia (Asiatic, Buddhist and wild Taiga) that do not make it into our TV screens.

The weather in Siberia is extreme but it’s dry-cold, so it takes less to survive it than you may think. The Siberian weather is kind of enjoyable and warm once you get used to it. People there are friendly and eager to meet foreigners so friends there are easy to find. It’s not uncommon to be invited for a drink by a total stranger or being stopped on the street if heard speaking English.

The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) offer advice and study abroad programs to students wanting to study in Siberia. You can choose from internships to fun programs such as culinary studies, Russian language courses and adventure programs with the Great Baikal Trail (GBT) who offer summer and winter projects around the shores of Lake Baikal.

As a language student looking to polish your Russian speaking skills, you’ll accomplish this very easily in the city of Irkutsk as there are far fewer English speakers there than in places like Moscow. When organizing your study abroad program with SRAS, you’ll have the option of enrolling in courses with Russian students, as well as staying with a host family or at a university dormitory.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea)

Study Abroad in North KoreaNorth Korea is, certainly, one place that falls under the radar of most travelers and students wanting to study abroad. North Korea has strict policies for foreign travelers but you can visit and study in the country as part of a delegation with the P’yongyang Project, which is a privately funded cultural program created to bridge the gap between Americans and North Koreans.

The P’yongyang Project is currently the only program that allows students to travel to North Korea. The P’yongyang Project offers open and independent semester-long travel programs to students from all academic backgrounds to take part in an internship or field volunteer project.

The P’yongyang Project organization is run by the founders of the project – Nick Young and Matt Reichel. You will initially be based in North-eastern China before catching a connecting flight to Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang where you’ll be greeted by local North Korean guides.

Much of your stay in North Korea will consist of doing interesting activities such as visiting Kim Il-Sung’s mausoleum, taking beach trips to Wonsan Port City, visiting Pyongyang Circus, the Children’s Palace and watching the annual Arirang Mass Games, which is an amazing festival dedicated to gymnastics and art performances.

North Korea may be a controversial destination but it is not at all as bad as made out to be by the media. As a student joining the P’yongyang Project, you will be part of a cultural exchange movement aimed at bringing people closer to North Korea and debunk the myth that North Koreans are one-dimensional and close minded.

Morocco

Morocco is a very much a laid-back kind of place and a nice choice to study abroad if you are looking for a more non-traditional destination to expand your horizons. The cool thing about studying in Morocco is that you don’t have to know Arabic or French as most courses are taught in English. As far as the weather, Moroccan weather isn’t always sunshine. In fact, the mountainous areas of Morocco receive a lot of snow, which means plenty of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding.

Another great incentive to study in Morocco is that Morocco makes it extremely easy and inexpensive to go and see other places. You’ll have the opportunity to explore Europe in a way that you wouldn’t be able to do from the US without the big price tag. For instance, a round-trip ticket from Morocco to Paris cost less than $50, while a trip to Hungary costs less than $15.

As far as learning, Morocco is one of the best places in the region for Middle Eastern study programs as well as French and Arabic language studies.

Morocco makes for a fantastic place to study abroad because everywhere you go there’s something knew to encounter and learn such as eating with your hands and navigating through the maze-like streets of a medina.

Popular places to study in Morocco include Ifrane, Rabat, Fez and Meknes, which can be visited via study abroad programs with CCIS Abroad, the University of Montana, Studies Abroad, CIEE, and IES Abroad.

Study Abroad in Jamaica Jamaica

If your idea of studying abroad is on a lively tropical island surrounded by stunning white sandy beaches, Jamaica is the place for you! Jamaica is home to exciting music festivals, superb nightlife and welcoming people who will make your study abroad experience a memorable one.

As a first year student (FYE) at a Jamaican university/college, you are required to take part in a FYE program to learn about Jamaican heritage. The FYE program includes historical tours of Kingston, visiting tourist sites and non-tourist sites that only Jamaicans know of.

One of the greatest incentives to study abroad in Jamaica is that many colleges such as Berea College give a lot of financial aid and offer scholarships, which means no need for you to take out a loan. In fact, the majority of your trip (i.e. health insurance, food and tuition) will be covered with this financial help.

As far as programs, the Georgia Perimeter College and Temple University are currently offering field service learning programs in Montego Bay and Yallahs respectively. As a prospective student looking for a study abroad service learning program in Jamaica, you can expect community-based activities which will include tutoring local people in computer and writing skills.

Jamaica Field Service Project (JAFSP) is another institution offering short-term study abroad programs in Jamaica. JAFSP is officially recognized by the State University of New York.

James Jones is a travel writer who has lived in Morocco and Jamaica during his study years and loves given advice to college students. He enjoys everything adventurous and the excitement of haggling at the local markets and interacting with local people. You can connect with James via his Blog and Google Plus.

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3 Responses to “Top Six Underrated Places to Study Abroad”

  1. noahpeden
    Monday, 7 April 2014 at 11:05 #

    How long can you study in Antarctica for? Is it only a short term program? Haha I can’t imagine doing a full academic year there.

  2. Kayla Patterson
    Monday, 14 April 2014 at 11:26 #

    Love this! I think studying in Jamaica would be super cool!

  3. Morgana Flores
    Thursday, 24 April 2014 at 11:34 #

    These are amazing places to go to and study, if you don’t want to choose mainstream countries. I would definitely pick Antarctica and Irkutsk Oblast because you don’t hear them often.

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