North America offers some of the most diverse learning opportunities for international students in the world. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, Canada to Mexico, Greenland to the Caribbean, the options for students looking to study abroad in North America are endless. If choosing a specific climate is something you’re set on, look no further than North America, with its vast and varied land from crossing the equator (fun in the sun!) to touching the arctic circle (brrrr…)! Don’t be intimidated by the numerous options, instead focus on the diverse programs available for those who are ready to take on the challenge of study abroad programs in North America.
Studying abroad offers a life changing experience, paired with both professional and social benefits. Therefore, In order to decide where to study abroad in North America, you have to decide which cities interest you and which ones best suit your career aspirations.
Boston. Located on the northeast coast of the United States, Boston is known for its impressive number of universities and colleges. With prestigious and world-renowned universities, like Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it’s no wonder Boston attracts thousands of students every year (over 250,000 to be exact!). You may not make many friends if you try to “Pahk the Cah in Hahvahd’s Yahd,” but you can certainly visit Harvard’s Yard while studying abroad in Boston, the academic hub of the U.S.
Los Angeles. Across the country from Boston, on the southwest coast of the United States, is Los Angeles. Don’t be distracted by Hollywood and the glitz and glamour of L.A.; the study abroad options are expansive in the second largest city in the U.S. L.A is perfect place for students wanting to learn more about the film industry, acting, and fashion. The “City of Angels” has prominent schools for students to look into, such as the Los Angeles Film School, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Los Angeles campus (FIDM), and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
Montreal. In 2015, the capital of Quebec ranked eighth on a list of “The Best Places to Be as a Student.” If you’re hoping to learn French or brush up on your French language skills, this may be the best place for you to study abroad in North America. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world, of course after Paris. Montreal has one of the largest populations of post-secondary students not only in North America, but in the world!
Mexico City. If you are interested in history or learning Spanish, then Mexico City may be the best place for you to study abroad in North America. It is the oldest capital city of the Americas, and was originally built by the Aztecs in 1325! The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is the largest university on the continent, with more than 300,000 students from all over the world. Graduates have gone on to be entrepreneurs, Mexican presidents, and Nobel laureates, among many other successful careers.
Studying Abroad in North America
Although studying abroad in North America and being away from home can be intimidating, it should also be a very exciting time in your life! But, first you have to decide what to study. If you choose to study in North America, you will have the ability to study almost anything, from engineering to medicine to marketing to human resources. International students can pick from a variety of majors and courses throughout various locations in North America. Another thing to take into consideration is language of instruction; North America encompasses primarily three languages: English, Spanish, and French.
Some universities have satellite schools in which students can easily transfer through the same institution to a location abroad. The educational courses provided are generally different and provide insight into the local culture and history of the local region and people. If you’re interested in studying abroad in a different language than your own, check out Quebec, Canada to study in French or Mexico to study in Spanish.
Some of the most popular fields of study in North America are fairly broad, and therefore give students multiple options for employment after graduation. Studying business administration or management can help you to develop decision-making skills within a leadership or management position. Nursing is a field of study that can easily transfer between various languages and cultures, and you could get international field experience along with academic credit. Although psychology can be a fairly Western idea, students can take classes that focus on personality and behavior, which may cross over easily into other humanity or science courses.
The best time to study in North America depends on where you will be studying on this rather vast continent. Study abroad programs in North America are available in the summer, fall, spring, and winter terms.
Scholarships & Costs
A large number of scholarships exist to specifically help finance study abroad in North America; however, just because the money is available doesn't mean that you will automatically receive it (rats!). It takes calculated, strategic effort to apply for multiple scholarships, and to not give up hope throughout the process. You can jumpstart your research for study abroad scholarship opportunities in the GoAbroad Scholarship Directory. There are tons of different award options, from fellowships to grants to scholarships, to help you find a financial aid option that fits with your program and financial needs.
Overall, North America can be a puzzle of affordability and expensive living (to put it nicely). Food costs can be extremely cheap, though most dollar menus mean a sacrifice in nutritional quality. Rent can be abhorrent, especially in the major cities (you know, the ones you probably want to study in!). Most students try to subsidize their cost of living by sharing an apartment with roommates. Keep in mind that what you see is NOT what you get. In most of North America you should expect to pay sales taxes on all goods purchased at a store, which can range from five to 15 extra cents on the dollar.
Accommodation & Visas
If you’re looking to study abroad in North America, you should consider where you are going to live and with who. Conduct extensive research on the location of the school and the types of safe and commutable neighborhoods available to students. If your new community has public transportation, look into the options available nearby, such as the local bus routes or train stations. Lastly, consider living with roommates to lower the cost of living during your time abroad.
Students who study abroad in North America typically have three housing options: homestay, school dormitory housing, or rentals. Dormitory style housing is prominent within undergraduate institutions in North America; dorms give students more of a college experience by allowing them to live on campus with similar aged classmates. Some universities may even have dormitories set aside for international students specifically. On the other hand, living with a family native to North America provides students with first hand experience of the local way of life. Those living in homestays are able to engage in the language and culture on a more intimate level. Lastly, some students choose to find rooms or apartments for rent. This option gives students more independence, with the understanding that they’ll have to do necessary research into the various options and neighborhoods either prior to departure or immediately upon arrival.
Each country in North America has its own laws and regulations for foreign students who wish to attend university; student visas are generally necessary before you can study abroad in North America. Most universities and colleges have international student offices which assist study abroad students in processing student visas though. Check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to find out the latest requirements for visas in your destination of choice in North America.
Benefits & Challenges
Studying abroad in North America may be challenging for international students to decide on the exact location and school to study at. There are many decisions to be made and options to consider when looking into the study abroad opportunities in North America. However, once a decision is made, there will be a number of personal and professional benefits from the experience.
Choosing to study abroad in North America means you’ll potentially have the chance to travel around the Western hemisphere. You can venture across the United States to see the Grand Canyon, hike through the Canadian wilderness, or visit the ancient ruins of the Mayan and Aztec people i Mexico. North America has a variety of languages, cultures, and landscapes that can fulfill the wanderlust in any international student.
With almost 5,000 universities and colleges in North America, you may be overwhelmed with how to choose the right study abroad opportunity. But don’t let the number of options scare you away. While studying abroad in North America, you will have the chance to travel, try new cuisines, and get to know various cultures, all while creating memories of your adventures that will last a lifetime.