Traveling the world and experiencing as many different cultural perspectives as possible should be a priority for all students of philosophy. Speculating about the conditions of existence within the walls of a classroom can only take students so far, the rest of the learning must entail students going into the world and making their own discoveries.
Why Study Philosophy Abroad
Studying philosophy abroad is about far more than the academic benefits or gold star on your transcript. While it will be rewarding to enroll in courses and learn about different philosophical approaches used by other cultures, the eye-opening perspective that comes through travel itself is what matters most. Philosophy is more about asking the right questions than finding all the answers. Now is the time to journey out into the world and find out for yourself what those questions should be!
While nearly every culture and society has its shared system of beliefs with the world in some way, philosophy has been most traditionally broken down between the Eastern and Western schools of thought. These labels are very broad reaching and allow for a tremendous amount of diversity within, yet the fact remains that each largely rely on different essential principles. Making the decision between these two schools of thought is sometimes the best place to start when searching for a philosophy study abroad program.
Some of the top countries where you can gain an education in the Eastern schools of philosophy include Japan, China, Nepal, India, and Thailand. Yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are the most popular branches of Eastern philosophy amongst these countries, while the extent to which their practice is secular or religious remains largely a matter of individual and social interpretation.
Some of the top countries where you can gain an education within the Western schools of philosophy include England, France, Germany, and Greece. Each of these cultures has had a historically different approach to philosophy, so it would be a good idea to become familiarized with the basics of each before making your decision of which to explore more deeply through study abroad.
Other regions that present interesting social environments to study philosophy abroad, include Africa and the Middle East, as well as Russia. The latter destinations will offer very distinctive approaches to the study of philosophy and therefore unique opportunities to study philosophy abroad. Philosophy is a relative and highly personal subject, so whatever country strikes you as the most intriguing route to realization, stop thinking and go there!
Philosophy Study Abroad Programs
The precise subject matter of available courses will obviously depend on where you end up studying philosophy abroad. Although, there are still a few determinant factors you should be aware of that might influence course offerings.
First, the language barrier can be a large obstacle to studying philosophy abroad at major universities in most countries. Unless you are adept in the local language, it is more likely that you will be studying at a smaller international institution or satellite school where philosophy courses in English are available. Therefore, you may not have access to as full a course catalogue if this is the case, though philosophy is a popular enough discipline that you will likely be able to take at least one course in philosophy for credit.
Another route you can take is embarking on a subject-specific philosophy study abroad program. These programs are generally shorter in duration, run over the summer, are guided by a college professor, and may entail travel throughout several destinations, exploring the philosophical relevance of the region at hand along the way.
For those who want to be sure they will receive academic credit for their Philosophical ventures studying abroad, enrolling in one of these subject-oriented programs or studying in an English-speaking country are your best bets. If you are in it for the experience itself, then the entire world lay at your feet!
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Relativity. By studying philosophy abroad within a different cultural context, you will realize that no one school of thought is right or wrong, which is a valuable lesson to learn early in life. Every major philosophy (and philosopher) has co-developed along with complex environmental and historical factors to become what it is today.
Explore Outside the Box. One of the most rewarding things you can do as a student of philosophy is travel to somewhere that is drastically different from your home country. It will expand your perspective to new heights and be a great growth experience.
“Me Time”. Even while building friendships and interacting with peers, studying philosophy abroad is the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the routine and do some serious thinking. Isn’t that what philosophy is all about?