“Give me liberty or give me death!” Did you know that the word liberal derives from liberty? It represents the freedom to think and reason from a vast array of knowledge and information types, from history to literature, philosophy to economics, and everything in between. If that’s the degree for you, there’s another liberty you should pursue: travel! Earning liberal arts degrees abroad not only provides you with an enriched education, but also satisfies your need for adventure. So, go get out there and be free!
Why Earn Liberal Arts Degrees Abroad
It’s one thing to watch documentaries about Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, flip through slides of paintings at the Louvre, and read textbook descriptions of different cultures around the world: it’s another thing to experience it! Imagine discussing philosophy and psychology on the same streets that Socrates walked down, or experiencing foreign economics and politics in your morning newspaper! Adventure is the best way to learn, so start your research for the best program and start your education.
Earning your degree at international liberal arts schools is especially valuable when you consider what you have studied and what you could study: culture. Every culture has a different history and outlook, so a degree abroad can give you a reading list of brand new books, diverse perspectives, and novel concepts. Adding an exotic spice to your degree (and no, ordering an Italian roast at your favorite cafe does not count) will enhance your studies, fuel your passion, and open up doors for travel, education, and careers.
Not only will your studies be improved by adding some suitcases to your school supplies, but your prospective career options afterwards as well! International experience never looks bad, and often gives you a leg up on the competition when it comes to resumes and interviews. Earning liberal arts degrees abroad also opens several doors for networking and opportunity, as the world is your playground. If you add a new language along the way, this advantage grows even higher!
Liberal arts is a diverse area of study, so it’s no wonder that there is an almost unending list of places to study in. Each location offers something special, so it’s important to consider what you’re interested in and where will be the best fit for you. There are no bad options, only better ones!
If the Norman conquest, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and hellenistic philosophy has you swooning like Julius Caesar in Act I Scene II, look to western Europe for your university. Italy, England, and France are leaders in classical studies, with their histories rich in literature, history, and politics. Trips to museums, cathedrals, and other historic sights bring class lectures to life. Then there’s also the many Classic Tourist Photo opps: trying to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, poking around Stonehenge, or slurping down a plate of escargots (nothing to be ashamed of here!). Germany and Switzerland provide similar classic studies, with their unique twists and a healthy dose of snow-sprinkled gingerbread.
For some liberal fun outside of the European continent, Buenos Aires provides a splendid background for anthropology focuses, especially when complemented with weekend getaways to pyramid temples and Spanish readings of local authors. There’s also tango and yerba mate to help with cultural studies, so don’t shy away from the immersion.
There’s more to liberal arts than Aristotle and Shakespeare though, so don’t discount programs in places like Thailand. Haikus or tribal rituals might be more your flavor, which garners a look into Asia for programs that extend beyond western focuses. If your interests lean more towards anthropology, ethnic studies, and global communication, grab your backpack and head into the minority jungles for an adventure of a lifetime.
Liberal Arts Degree Programs
Academic foci and liberal arts degrees vary from place to place, so it’s important to identify your needs and find the right program for your interests. Whether your heart beats to history studies or philosophical musings, it’s good to see what you’d like to focus on, and then dive in.
At the undergraduate level, an international liberal arts degree is broad and varied. It typically requires a variety of courses and study focuses, from language to literature and politics to anthropology. Master and doctoral degrees tend to require a specialization within the college of liberal arts, such as Chinese literature or African anthropology, although it’s still possible to achieve as a more general topic at a higher level.
Before earning your international liberal arts degree, it’s important to identify the culture, style, and information focus of your university destination. Liberal arts encompasses a variety of topics: sociology, the sciences, mathematics, literature, and more. Depending on your focus, you may need to do additional studies outside the classroom, such as an internship for political science or a recital for music and dance.
Starting at liberal arts schools, even abroad, is relatively easy, as it generally requires only a degree for the level below whatever you are seeking (high school for undergraduate for master’s and so on). Unless you are looking into earning a degree in a country that speaks a language different from your native language, there are no additional requirements or qualifications for a liberal arts degree (and even the language requirement isn’t set in stone). As long as you have a passion for the field, it will be no time at all before you’re dancing across the graduation stage like a Monet ballerina!
Benefits and Challenges
Novelty. By going abroad, you’re opening your scope to a range of new insights and materials. This will greatly increase your knowledge and widen your perspective, but it can be initially difficult as you may have to play catch-up in comparison to locals that are more used to the subject area: your secondary education of To Kill a Mockingbird may or may not line up to the original Don Quixote. Take this in stride, seek help where you need it, and offer your own background perspectives to gain a broader education than anyone else around you!
Connections. Surrounding yourself with the material you’re studying will invariably make everything stick and connect at a deeper level than being at home, which is very valuable to a liberal arts degree. On top of that, the friends, professors, advisors, and more that you will meet and make along the way are what makes the experience truly memorable. With all those people, you’re likely to learn as much during your coffee breaks with classmates as you will during class lectures!
Earning degrees in liberal arts abroad gives you a step above the competition, as well as some amazing travel stories and a deeper understanding of your degree. As you gather your many books and reading materials for your studies, also consider St. Augustine’s perspective that “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Reach out beyond the known and go abroad for your degree!