The 10 Best Places to Study Abroad in 2018

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Where are the best places to study abroad?

If your college career is starting to feel monotonous and lackluster, it’s probably because you’ve been missing out on one of the most enlivening experiences of a person’s life. Studying abroad is right up there with notable milestones like marriage, taking out a mortgage, and having your first child. Don’t be surprised if your semester abroad yields more pictures than the first six months of your first born’s life. 

The unforgettable moments you experience while submerged in unfamiliar smells and sounds halfway around the world possess a special power able to change your perspectives, mature you, and teach you lessons you won’t learn anywhere else. There aren’t many other opportunities in life in which you get lost in unfamiliar metro systems, meet strangers destined to become lifelong friends, and make face-reddening cultural blunders all in the same day. 

The 10 Best Places to Study Abroad in 2018

If kayaking through Scandinavian archipelagos or bungee jumping from New Zealand’s picturesque cliffs on the weekend seems like something you might be interested in pursuing, there’s a chance (a pretty big one) that you are study abroad material. So, after brainstorming where in the world you would want to study abroad, there are a few people you should contact to get that planning ball rolling. 

Trying to choose the best place to study abroad and not sure where to start? Our mystical study abroad sages have peered into their crystal balls to bring you the most spectacular places to study abroad in 2018. 

1. New Zealand

Kayaks resting on a shore
New Zealand

While there are unfortunately no real Hobbits wandering the valleys of New Zealand on quests, the unworldly landscape will have you wondering whether you really are in Middle-earth. With two islands, 30 million sheep, and the strongest rugby team in the world, New Zealand is also one of the best places to study abroad because you can dabble in adrenaline pumping extreme sports in your free time while studying at some seriously top-notch universities. From the University of Otago in the South to the University of Auckland in the North, this country’s got tons of institutions to choose from.

Pros:

Sharing the same language opens up possibilities for students of all academic backgrounds to study abroad in New Zealand. The unique integration of Māori words into Kiwi English will introduce you to native New Zealand culture and have you leaving your study abroad saying kia ora!

Cons:

New Zealand will definitely quench your thirst for extreme sports and natural beauty, but if you’re hungry for exotic cultural adventure, a similar culture and society to back home might leave you underwhelmed.

Particularly Awesome Study Abroad Programs:

2. China

Stone bridge over a river
China

As a world superpower housing a little more than 18 percent of the world’s population, understanding China’s complex culture shaped over thousands of years of dynasties, wars, and art has quickly become increasingly vital for the world stage. Study abroad in any one of the dozens of cities lining the eastern coast to experience the overwhelming results of urbanization or discover China’s quieter rural areas frozen back in time.

Pros:

China’s religion, government, population density, and language (the list could go on and on!) starkly contrasts to Western nations and confronts students with a humbling, eye-opening culture shock. China is a great pick for students wanting to truly learn about a new culture.

Cons:

Air pollution and water contamination have become massive issues plaguing the heavily populated and industrialized parts of China. Those with sensitive lungs can avoid the smog in the cleaner rural areas.

Particularly Awesome Study Abroad Programs:

3. Sweden

Homes overlooking a river
Sweden

If you like midday coffee breaks accompanied by pastries and dancing around flowery poles on Midsummer, Sweden is calling you to study abroad next year. With a well-developed knowledge based economy, Sweden places great emphasis on education and has a highly educated population as proof, resulting in several accomplished higher education institutions. Thousands of lakes and forests cover Sweden’s area, filling it with natural beauty and outdoor adventures all the way past the Arctic Circle. It was a “Duh!” add-on to this list of the best places to study abroad.

Pros:

You don’t need to start memorizing IKEA furniture names in preparation to study abroad in Sweden, because a large portion of the population in and around cities speaks English quite fluently.

Cons:

Swedes tend to be reserved at first, which makes it a bit difficult for Americans, who are used to spontaneous small-talk and easily making friends. However, once you get through the pearly gates of friendship, you’ll have a Swede friend for life!

Particularly Awesome Programs:

4. France

Palace gardens
France

From the beaches of Normandy to the star-studded promenades of Cannes on the French Riviera, French is jam-packed with culinary delights, a freedom fighting history, and a whole lot of beauty to explore. Apart from being an obvious choice to refine your skills in the language of love, France’s universities and study abroad programs offer incredible opportunities to study fashion, art, philosophy, and culinary arts.

Pros:

There’s good reason why France is the most visited country by tourists in the world (and why it’s a top destination for study abroad in 2018). It might have something to do with the endless chateaus, world heritage museums, sophisticated wines, and hard crusted baguettes that make leaving the worst part about studying abroad in France.

Cons:

With the massive tourist population, especially in Paris, it might be difficult to find a niche where you truly feel immersed in the French language and culture. If you can’t resist the temptation to hang out at trendy tourist sites with English-speakers, seek out a more rural location to study abroad.

Particularly Great Programs for Studying Abroad:

5. Chile

Lake with volcano
Chile

This slice of life is wedged between the imposing Andes mountain range to the East and a 4,000 stretch of pristine coastline on the Pacific Ocean to the West. While you may have only heard of the capital city, Santiago, there are several other cities throughout Chile’s pepper-shaped borders to consider for study abroad. Chile shares a similar European conquest history with other Latin American countries, giving way to a unique blend of European and indigenous influences in its culture and language.

Pros:

Boasting a stable, developed economy and relatively low crime rate when compared to its South American neighbors, Chile’s a worry-free destination in which to study abroad and learn Spanish.

Cons:

Large magnitude earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and smog torment the country every few years. Because it’s impossible to predict when the next disaster will hit, keep yourself well informed about safety procedures in case something happens while you’re abroad. 

Particularly Awesome Study Abroad Programs:

6. Spain

Overlooking Alicante, Spain
Spain

As the birthplace of the world’s second most spoken language and conveniently located just a short flight away from Africa and the rest of Europe, Spain is naturally a classic study abroad favorite (and no stranger to recognition as one of the best places to study abroad). Dimly lit flamenco tablaos with tapas, tremendous vats of freshly prepared paella, and non-stop celebrations past towering cathedrals are only a handful of the thrilling reasons you should think about studying abroad in Spain next year.

Pros:

Two-hour lunch breaks and taking a more stress-free approach to life hints at Spain’s laid back lifestyle. Go ahead and take a siesta between class! Your neighbors won’t judge.

Cons:

Students used to studying Latin American Spanish in school will have to acclimate to some new vocabulary, the vosotros form, and a whole new accent. Some regions in Spain even speak a whole different language—Catalan or Basque.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

7. Thailand

River markets in Thailand
Thailand

A bargain cost of living, top universities, and tropical ethereal beaches, have made Thailand a study abroad destination hotter than its spices. Whether you choose to study in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or a more rural location, you’ll find colorful markets, mouthwatering food, and a whole lot of smiles everywhere you go. Although tourism and business are popular traditional study options, some shorter term programs also offer volunteer opportunities in Thailand, so you can bathe elephants when you’re finished with homework.

Pros:

Because of the immensity of Thailand’s tourism industry, English is widely spoken and a necessity for many Thai people. It’ll be a breeze telling your tuk tuk driver where you want to go!

Cons:

With so many cultural differences and a language you probably don’t know a word of, make sure to do your research before arriving in Thailand. Your time abroad is limited, so it’s best to get a head start where you can.

Particularly Great Programs for Studying Abroad:

8. Italy

Spires on top of the Duomo in Milan
Italy

Who hasn’t dreamed of gazing upon Michelangelo’s intricate frescos in the Sistine Chapel or devouring a “real” pizza under the shadows of the Duomo’s spires in Milan? From the great Roman civilization to some of the most savory cuisine in the world, Italy never fails to capture our imaginations. With so many study abroad programs in Italy to choose from, you can study virtually anywhere on this boot shaped country, and even on a few islands!

Pros:

Apart from having enough delicious gelato and bruschetta to feed you throughout your study abroad program, Italy has no shortage of astounding museums, well-preserved artwork, and stunning architecture collected over the past few civilizations to keep you entertained.

Cons:

Like many other popular study abroad destinations, Italy is teeming with U.S. and international students in the larger cities. While you probably won’t have an issue befriending fellow countrymen, it could take some work to get truly immersed in the Italian language and culture.

Particularly Awesome Study Abroad Programs:

9. Brazil

Cable cars above Rio de Janeiro
Brazil

Plunge into a country as colorful and spirited as its annual kaleidoscopic celebration of Carnival. Although you won’t find sparsely clad samba dancers and catchy drum beats all year round, studying abroad in Brazil will introduce you to a whole new world of sun-kissed beaches, extremely friendly people, and an incredibly diverse population spread out from the remote Amazon Basin to the cosmopolitan streets of Sao Paulo.

Pros:

With the largest Portuguese speaking population in the world (20 times larger than Portugal!), it’s not difficult to find an opportunity to practice Portuguese in Brazil.

Cons:

As a developing country Brazil has many areas, such as the poverty stricken favelas, that suffer from a high crime and unemployment rate. When in doubt, just keep an eye out for pickpockets and avoid wandering out late at night.

Particularly Awesome Programs:

10. England

Parliament Building and Big Ben
England

Prestigious top-tier institutions such as the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford have helped shaped England’s international reputation as a prominent destination for quality higher education and a secure place as one of the top destinations for study abroad in 2018. Apart from a long history of academic prowess and contributions, students studying abroad in England will find no end to exciting pursuits outside the classroom. Study abroad in England and discover the all the unexpected joys that have made this destination an all-time favorite!

Pros:

The absence of a language barrier means that you’ll have undeterred access to programs and classes at universities, so you’re a lot less likely to be sitting in class with only other international students.

Cons:

Although the exchange rate between the British Pound and U.S. Dollar has equalized more in the past few years, the cost of living in England is still quite high when compared to other European countries.

Particularly Great Programs for Studying Abroad:

If study abroad isn’t already prominently highlighted, circled, and bolded as number one on your bucket list, you have some heavy editing to do before the year is up. Regardless of your major or foreign language abilities (even lack thereof), we guarantee there’s a study abroad program perfectly tailored for you that will make 2018 one for the books; all you have to do is start your search! 

BONUS! Study Abroad Scholarships Spring, Summer, & Fall 2018

You didn’t think we’d leave you without mentioning some amazing opportunities to fund your study abroad, did you? We’re not the only ones who think you should study abroad. There are dozens of organizations and scholarships that want you to live out your dreams abroad so badly, that they’ll even give you money to go. Crazy, right? Here are a few introductions to get you started:

Plan your funding early! Check out GoAbroad’s Study Abroad Scholarship Directory.