It is no secret that the United States boasts some of the finest behavioral neuroscience programs in the world. Why bother going abroad then? How about exploring a new city, working with peers from around the world, and coming to gain a fuller appreciation of how the principles of biology transcend culture by immersing yourself in an entirely new social environment? Studying neuroscience and behavior abroad will take you far beyond the classroom, encompassing a much broader range of lessons by teaching you daily through living in a different culture.
There are a large amount of universities across the world which boast respectable medical and neuroscientific research departments. Some of the top ranked neuroscience and behavior departments in Europe are at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford in England, the University of Dusseldorf in Germany, the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. These are all highly prestigious institutions with track records which boast multiple Nobel laureates and a thick resume of cutting edge scientific achievement.
If you are looking to move beyond Western civilization, try to study neuroscience and behavior abroad in the increasingly competitive Asian university system. The National University of Singapore in Singapore, Seoul National University in South Korea, the University of Tokyo in Japan, and the University of Hong Kong in China are all top ranked universities in their home countries and each boast respectable neuroscience and behavior departments. Exposing yourself to Eastern civilization will culturally supplement your classroom education with an entirely different context under which to approach the social manifestation of neuroscientific phenomena.
There are Universities all over the world which offer an intriguing blend of neuroscientific study with enriching cultural immersion. It is important to keep in mind that when studying neuroscience and behavior abroad, especially if only for one semester, that location can often prove more rewarding than the prestige of any academic institution. If you are wanting to study abroad in a developing country in South America or Southeast Asia for example, do not let the lack of internationally acclaimed educational institutions deter you. You will learn much more from daily life in these places than you ever could in a classroom.
Courses & Programs
What neuroscience and behavior courses you take abroad will depend heavily on your area of concentration within the broad field of neuroscience and behavioral research, as well as available courses at your host university. Consider branching out and exploring new focuses while studying abroad. Neuroscience is a highly interdisciplinary field so you will likely be offered courses in the areas of psychology, chemistry, biology, genetics, physics, and more which will transfer credit back to your home university.
Also take advantage of your new cultural surroundings by enrolling in general education or extracurricular courses outside the field of neuroscience. For example if you are studying abroad in Japan, do not spend all of your time struggling with chemical principles which are universally applicable – try to enroll in a Japanese History or Eastern Philosophy class to supplement and enrich your unique academic experience living in that country!
If you take the opportunity to study neuroscience and behavior abroad it will allow you to advance your knowledge in the field and apply lessons learned in the classroom in your everyday experiences as a stranger in a strange land. Learning how behavioral issues and neurological disorders are handled and viewed in the context of a different culture will widen your academic and cultural perspective on the subject, as well as personal development.
For students of any discipline, studying abroad is often the independent growth experience of a lifetime. By studying neuroscience and behavior abroad you will not only gain a wider perspective and cultural context through which to more thoroughly understand your area of scientific focus, but you will also grow immensely as an individual who is capable of forming their own opinions of how the world works.
Science is first and foremost a discipline which is centered around skepticism of the existing body of knowledge. In order to stay at the head of your field you must learn how to look forward, think outside the box, and never stop questioning the established status quo. Not only will studying neuroscience and behavior abroad be the definitive first step in this direction, but it’ll be a whole lot of fun too.