Words like “vast” and “diverse” cannot begin to describe the number of options for study abroad in Asia. Encompassing nearly one-third of the Earth’s land mass and nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, the largest continent on Earth is as different from country to country as yin and yang. Nonetheless, there are regional ties, historical complexities, and geographical similarities that help unite Asia under one distinct identity. Study abroad programs in Asia are best for students who are ready for a grand adventure in a place filled with centuries of history worth exploring.
There are over 50 countries encompassed by Asia, many of which boast a tremendous amount of cultural diversity within their borders. It would be impossible to explore all the promising destinations for study abroad in Asia in this brief segment, instead the following is a regional breakdown of the most popular destinations among students.
In the far East, Japan, China, and South Korea reign supreme as the top countries for study abroad in Asia. These countries have had a long history of trade, warfare, and mutual influence between them, yet today remain remarkably distinct in their own cultural nuances. Each exerts a powerful influence in the global arena, making each one a very promising place for a study abroad experience in Asia.
In southeast Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines are gaining in popularity as they continue to develop economically and gain influence on the global stage. Again, very different in their own right, each one offering uniquely beautiful landscapes, fascinating histories, and welcoming populations who are no strangers to international travelers.
In the Indian subcontinent, India and Nepal are two very enriching destinations for study abroad in Asia. Largely sheltered throughout history by extensive coastlines and the massive Himalayas to the north, the largely shared heritage between these two countries remains very distinct today, as both a proud and deeply religious culture.
Studying Abroad in Asia
You can take your pick of subjects while studying abroad in Asia, as there will be plenty to choose from. If you choose to study abroad at a large university, you will usually have access to the full course catalogue, granted you are proficient enough in the local language to engage in courses effectively. Asian countries where English is generally the medium of education include India, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Another option for study abroad in Asia comes in the form of study abroad programs that enroll students in local satellite schools or partner institutions, where courses are much smaller and tailored to an international student body. The subject matter of these courses is generally focused on the regional language, culture, and history, providing an intensive education about students’ newfound surroundings.
Some popular fields of study in Asia, regardless of program type, include Asian Studies, History, Economics, and Business. Additionally, language study abroad programs in Asia are a great way to advance your fluency in a particular dialect, but you should always make the effort to engage in conversation as much as possible outside the classroom too.
Study abroad programs in Asia are typically offered during the summer term, during fall and spring semester, or for a full academic year. It is a good idea to communicate with your home university beforehand, to discuss feasible options for you to study abroad and also stay on track for your degree.
Scholarships & Costs
There is a tremendous amount of economic and infrastructural diversity within the Asian continent, so your study abroad expenses will vary significantly depending on where you decide to go. For example, Japan is one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel to; on the other hand, India is one of the least expensive study abroad destinations in Asia. Regardless of where you end up studying abroad in Asia, there are a ton of great scholarship opportunities to help you foot the bill.
Accommodation & Visas
Speaking in generalities, you will likely have the option of living in a homestay, student dormitories, or in an individual apartment while studying abroad in Asia. Each type of housing has its pros and cons, so consider available accommodations significantly when researching different study abroad program options.
You will likely need to apply for a student visa before embarking on your study abroad adventure in Asia. Your host university or study abroad program provider will usually help guide you through this process. But, in the mean time, you can check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more visa information about your destination of choice.
Benefits & Challenges
Unravel the Mystery. For many who have never visited Asia, it remains a land of great complexity and intrigue. Leaving your own culture behind to explore an entirely new one can be a formidable challenge, but one well worth undertaking as you gain your bearings within a whole new manifestation of life.
Learn a Language. Asia has rapidly developed throughout the 20th century to the point where many regional powers hold a significant influence on the global stage. Asian languages can be difficult to learn, but once you have the knowledge it will become an invaluable skillset to have moving forward into the job market.
Travel Affordably. As many countries in Asia are still developing economically, travel within the continent is cheap and accessible for many students coming from the industrialized world, so explore as much as you can while studying abroad in Asia!