If you can’t focus on studying because you keep gazing wistfully at the turquoise water and white sand of your desktop background, you probably have a bad case of Caribbean-itis. The remedy? Consider applying for study abroad programs in the Caribbean! The islands scattered throughout the Caribbean Sea are more than just holiday getaways; the Caribbean is saturated in culture, history, good food, and of course, sunshine. Throw in a bunch of excellent program providers and you have yourself just the kind of study abroad destination dreams are made of.
Can’t decide where to study in the Caribbean? Just close your eyes and point to any island on the map; wherever your fingertip lands will surely be an island crowded with natural beauty, palm trees, adventure, and study abroad opportunities. Sound too good to be true? Well you better believe it! The Caribbean is basically paradise for international students, because there are just as many great places to study as there are to swim. You can get the best of both worlds by studying abroad in the Caribbean: those chill Caribbean vibes AND an outstanding education to boot.
Close to the rest of the Caribbean islands, but still worlds apart, Cuba is a spell-binding destination for study abroad students. If your areas of interest include politics, international relations, social development, and permaculture, you will be endlessly fascinated while studying abroad in Cuba. Throw in some rum, vintage cars, and cigars, and your experience will be complete.
Good things come in twos. Trinidad and Tobago is proof of that; this little island combo dishes up Creole cuisine, a boisterous carnival, calypso and soca music, and many fascinating bird species. Antigua and Barbuda is another dual island nation, with its fair share of charm and magical beaches. And let’s not forget St. Kitts and Nevis, with their dormant volcanoes, crater lakes, and rainforests full of green vervet monkeys and hiking trails.
Alpine ranges and desert expanses aren’t typically what you think of when you imagine a Caribbean island, but the Dominican Republic is surprising like that. Sharing the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the Dominican Republic encompasses Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain, as well as savannahs, rainforests, and colonial charm. This is a Caribbean island made for adventure lovers; if that includes you, then get ready to trek and mountain bike your heart here.
Study Abroad in the Caribbean
Students of all majors are welcome to study abroad in the Caribbean; however, those studying marine biology, oceanography, botany, conservation, sustainability, and related subjects will truly benefit from living and studying in the Caribbean.
Caribbean culture is very artistic and expressive. This is evident in their rich musical, literary, and culinary skills, and also in their political and social traits. The Caribbean culture is a product of its history and geography. Since the islands were inhabited and developed before the Europeans started to colonize the Americas, you’ll hear British, Spanish, French, African, and even Dutch idioms used while studying in the Caribbean. Because of this, arts, dance, music, and sociology majors especially benefit from access to the vibrant and integrated culture of the Caribbean islands.
Despite the presence of diverse languages and many creoles, English is the first or second language of most nations throughout the Caribbean. As such, the language of instruction for most study abroad programs is English; however, in places such as Cuba or the Dominican Republic, your classes may be taught in Spanish too. If you don’t yet habla español, these could be great places to learn Spanish, and there are many opportunities to study Spanish throughout the Caribbean.
Costs & Affordability
The cost of studying in the Caribbean varies widely depending on the location you choose. Overall, however, basics such as food, entertainment, and transport are cheaper in the Caribbean than in North America. International students can usually get a lot of bang for their buck in the Caribbean. It helps that some of the best activities (lounging on beaches and sipping on coconuts) are cheap or completely free!
Study Abroad program fees will take care of most of the costs associated with studying abroad in the Caribbean. Things like orientation, tuition, and housing are almost always included, with options to add on excursions, insurance, and meal plans. The main cost of study abroad students will have to take care of on their own is international flights to and from their destination.
Accommodation & Visas
Ok, ok, you’re thinking, so studying abroad in the Caribbean would be great, but what about finding a place to live? And how do you go about getting a visa?! Is it possible? Probable? Plausible? The good news is, you usually don’t even need to worry about finding accommodation, so you’ll be able to get right down to the business of soaking up those beach vibes. Most study abroad programs in the Caribbean include housing arrangements in program fees. The housing provided generally falls into two categories: dormitories or shared houses/apartments. Either way, you will have plenty of new buddies to go beach-hopping and island-exploring with!
Sorting out your visa might be slightly trickier, but as long as you are enrolled in a study abroad program or university, have a passport valid for six months longer than your intended stay, proof of funds to support you throughout your stay, and some form of travel insurance, the visa application process should be fairly straightforward. The requirements and process for obtaining a student visa may vary from country to country, and according to your individual situation. The best plan of attack is to stop by the GoAbroad Embassy Directory, to find the embassy for your intended study location nearest to you. Your program provider will also be able to offer support and information regarding visas.
Benefits & Challenges
Studying in the Caribbean means you can get closer to fascinating cultures that tourists miss; after seeing, tasting, and experiencing everything the Caribbean has to offer, you will never want to set foot in an all-inclusive resort ever again.
As well as lapping up sun and surf, studying abroad in the Caribbean means enjoying unique and tasty cuisine. Caribbean cooking is a fusion of African, American, European, East Indian, and Chinese cuisine. The Caribbean culture was highly influenced by the foreign nations that conquered the islands; therefore, the cuisine of the islands is also a mixture of these influences, and yet, traditional dishes are very important to the regional culture. Keep in mind that each island is vastly different from the next in the way of food preparation, activities, and mannerisms. Exploring the local cuisine is a foray into the history of the region, and a great way to experience Caribbean culture on a deeper level.
Although the Caribbean region is rich in jungle, white-sand beaches, and crystal-clear water, economically there are many island nations that continue to struggle. Life can be a lot simpler than what you may be used to at home. In Cuba, for example, things you consider basic necessities, like internet, may be scarce or nonexistent. You may have to adapt to a different way of life, and recognise that despite the presence of five-star hotels, some of the most beautiful countries in the world are not exempt from poverty.
There is a lot more to study abroad in the Caribbean than just great beaches. If you choose the Caribbean you will find that world-class study opportunities exist alongside some of the most exciting adventure opportunities you will ever find. Turn your daydreams into reality with a semester abroad in the Caribbean!