Study Culture Abroad

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A Guide to Studying Culture Abroad

Whether you’re trying to fill some electives or vamp up your second language degree, studying culture abroad is a no-brainer. Culture study abroad programs really put you in the thick of it; analyzing power structures and social phenomenon in other countries is serious fodder for reflection on your own. From a multi-country program in Europe to a semester long program centered around the Mayans in Mexico, students will be intensively immersed, both academically and physically, in their host culture. Books, cooking classes, nights out to the theater, exposure to entirely new systems and identities, need we say more?

Why Study Culture Abroad

Studying culture abroad allows students to delve into the finite aspects of the new society they choose to live in. Because of this, culture is actually one of the most exciting and interesting topics you can study overseas. Whether it’s finding out the deep dark secrets of torture practices in Medieval England or why pilgrims wear shells on their backpacks on the Camino del Santiago in Spain, cultural studies allow you backdoor access to the history of the place you’re living!

As well as gaining a deeper knowledge of the place you’re at, studying culture abroad allows you to learn under local professors that offer a different perspective from what you might find from a professor back home. For example, a professor of culture or history in Peru will most likely be Peruvian themselves (and will have grown up among Incan ruins, traditions, and culture) offering a first hand look into the subject you’re studying.

Finally, studying culture abroad is just plain fun. Many culture-oriented programs abroad are full of field trips to historical sites, contemporary examples of subject matter, and a TON of delectable samplings of the local cuisines (#foodselfies, much?!).

Locations

The great thing about culture is that you can literally go anywhere to study it. Virtually every university and study abroad program offers some sort of culture course, if not several. Whether you want to dive into the history of the political revolution in South Africa, Hinduism in India, colonialism in Brazil, or Jules Verne in France, the world is literally at your culture-lovin’ fingertips.

The most important factors in deciding where to study culture abroad are figuring out what credits count toward your major and what is interesting to you. Since cultural studies courses are so widely available around the world, many students choose to study abroad in non-traditional places, in order to learn about a culture they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to.

The most popular places, by far, to study culture abroad are Europe, particularly England and France, because both countries offer many choices in terms of elite universities. The diversity of cultural course offerings are more likely to transfer credits to your home institution too.

Another one of the most popular places to pursue cultural studies abroad is South America, where students can delve into subjects such as pre-Columbian history, contemporary dance, or modern aspects of multicultural countries, such as Peru and Brazil. Even though most of South America was colonized by the Spanish or Portuguese, each country has its own unique history that offers a vastly different experience for each student. Finally, for those who are interested in indigenous studies should seriously consider South America as an option due to the thousands of ethnic groups that live in each nation.

Culture Study Abroad Programs

Since there is such a wide variety of culture courses offered abroad, students can heavily customize the type of study abroad experience they want.

Those looking to cast a wide net in a short amount of time should sift through summer multi-country programs. In general, multi-country study abroad programs focus on subjects that can be intertwined with cultural studies, such as literature and history. Depending on the specific program, courses will usually last between two and three weeks in each country.

If you want to focus on a specific culture and get into the nitty gritty aspects of a particular place, take a look at semester and year-long study abroad programs that all take place in one country. More long term study abroad programs will take students deep inside the minutia of cultural studies, exploring topics related to fine arts and history. Many full semester culture study abroad programs are accompanied by foreign language courses, if you choose a non-English speaking country, along with three to four related classes.

One thing to keep in mind when selecting a culture-focused study abroad program is accommodation; any culturally curious students should opt for programs that involve staying with local host families, so as to get the most immersive cultural experience possible.

Benefits & Challenges

Cultures. Are. Dope. But we’re preaching to the choir, right? As a fellow social scientist, you know that you can’t familiarize yourself with all the layers of a culture in a short amount of time. The time constraint of most study abroad programs may pose a challenge to anthropologists-in-the-making who take their international studies seriously.

That being said, just because you can’t memorize the entire scope of Italian culture in a mere few months doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try. There are many ways to experience a culture, many of them sensory ways that lead to a wildly fulfilling introductory cultural crash course (we suggest by way of belly).

Culture is a sum of many things, attitudes, perspectives, and trends, and is inescapable. Even those individuals who reject culture are subconsciously admitting of its existence. While we’re sure you’ve loved diving deep into your own culture as a college student, now’s as good a time as any to set your sights on a foreign one.

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A Guide To
Studying Culture Abroad

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CISabroad

During your semester in London, you won't just read Shakespeare in the classroom; you'll go see it performed live in the Globe Theatre. The city is your classroom! On Semester at University of Westminster, London, you can take classes for your major or as electives at an internationally recognized institution while exploring this lively, diverse city. You can also intern at one of the city's ma...

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American Institute For Foreign Study

Spend a semester or academic year in the picturesque city of Prague with AIFS. Earn up to 18 credits studying at Charles University. Courses are taught in English or Czech, with no previous Czech language study required. Orientation includes a 2-week Czech Language and Culture course to help you acclimate to life in Prague, where you'l live in a university residence hall with meal allowance...

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IES Abroad

Taught in English, the IES Abroad European Union Program gives you the chance to study Politics, Economics, Business, and International Relations like you never have before. As the European Union continues to grow in size and influence, understanding it becomes key to understanding Europe and our world. This program features an integrative seminar that incorporates approximately 21 days of fiel...

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Boston University Study Abroad

The Sydney Sophomore Engineering program combines coursework at the Boston University Sydney Academic Center and the University of Sydney with professional work experience in or near Sydney. The program is ideally suited for second-semester sophomores in engineering and is designed to fit neatly into engineering students' existing curriculum. During the semester, students will participate in...

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Go Abroad China Ltd.

A chance to be like thousands of international alumni who have studied at the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), study and live the language with flexible programs ranging from just a month to a full academic year of study. With the help of Go Abroad China, you will gain more vocabulary, master the grammar and speak with more fluency after intense classes, taught by some of the bes...

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Athena Study Abroad

Athena's partner school in Florence, Italy, Lorenzo de' Medici (LdM), is a private institution located among several buildings in the center of this charming Renaissance city. The campus' main building dates back to the 13th century and, before being renovated, was originally a convent and church. Florence was the heart of the Renaissance, and its artistic flair is still tangible. With that ...

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Center For Study Abroad (CSA) - Direct Low Cost - Budget

Study Chinese language and culture at BLCU - Beijing Language and Culture University. Students can take part in high quality academic programs, and earn college credit. The program runs for twenty hours per week, four hours per day. Students can take an intensive course that runs for thirty hours per week, six hours per day. Housing is provided on campus in a residence Dormitory. Founded in ...

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Semester Study Abroad in Seville, Spain - Adelante Abroad

Seville, Spain is a beloved destination among tourists. Enjoy a semester in one of southern Spain's most popular Andalusian cities! In Seville, students are sure to develop their Spanish language, conversation, and reading composition skills. Language acquisition and cultural immersion are always at the forefront of Adelante Abroad's programs. Candidates have the option to take up to five cour...

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Syracuse University

Madrid is a brilliant city known for its exciting nightlife and superb fashion. The days here are full of sunshine and the nights are exploding with colors and sounds of friendly people who enjoy life to the fullest. It is the hub for important Spanish organizations, new companies, and government offices. The city also has many museums, art collections, and monuments for visitors to peruse. ...

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University Studies Abroad Consortium

The Madrid program is ideal for students who wish to study Spanish and European Studies in one of the world's great capitals. Madrid is a fascinating city and has a vibrant culture that provides the perfect setting for language study or art history studies. You will be able to study Spanish language and the complexities of Spanish and contemporary European societies through a wide selection of ...

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Academic Programs International

The University of Granada was chartered and given official Papal ratification by Clemente VII in 1531. Through its almost 500 years of existence, it has become one of the major intellectual centers in southern Spain. The University's Modern Language Center, the Centro de Lenguas Modernas, is housed in what was once an orphanage built in the 1700s. It was completely restored in 1992 and is locat...

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ISA (International Studies Abroad)

Get the chance to study at a university in Spain while immersing in rich cultural heritage! Depending on your chosen program, you will take courses at any of these universities: the University of Pablo de Olavide, the Menendez Pelayo International University, or University of Sevilla. No matter where you study, have assurance of modern facilities and highly qualified faculty. Plus, you will fin...

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CIEE

This summer come develop your Spanish language skills and immerse yourself in local culture in the beautiful, dynamic capital of Andalusia. Through intensive language study, area studies courses, offered in English and Spanish, homestays, and a variety of cultural activities and excursions, summer study abroad Seville offers you a unique and exciting international experience. Study abroad i...

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Performing Arts Abroad

Immerse yourself in an intensive Blas summer program offered by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance to study traditional Irish music and song. The Academy offers a summer intensive program focused on Irish music and song. Built around a central structure of small master classes, you will have an unparalleled level of access to tutors who are leading experts and performers on a specific i...

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MAXIMO NIVEL

Live and study in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Maximo Nivel offers the most intensive and professional Spanish immersion program in Latin America. Our Native Spanish Program emphasizes oral communication and integrated skills development to help you really build your Spanish language proficiency - this is a great immersion experience. Our native-speaking Spanish teachers are highly q...