Wedged in between Algeria and Libya in North Africa along the Mediterranean, to study abroad in Tunisia is to face head-on enough culture and natural beauty to fill a country twice its size. This Arab-African nation is an ideal location for any beachgoer looking for an underrated study abroad destination, with miles and miles of sandy beaches — and desert! Tunisia has an incredibly diverse landscape, with lakes full of pink flamingos, large green forests, and the Sahara. Tunisia has become progressively modern since its colonial history. Study in Tunisia and sprinkle some rose water on your life!
Studying abroad in Tunisia will give you an experience to remember, with its festivals full of music and dance, history and art museums, and, of course, the food (seafood fah dayz). Tunisia has been home to different empires and colonizers including the French, Ottoman, and Roman, and each of these major influences helped establish the melting pot that is contemporary Tunisian culture. What Tunisia lacks in size it makes up for what it can offer in its rich culture and history. Before deciding on your study abroad program, consider which programs are best for you based on its academic and social factors.
The academic and cultural center of Tunisia is its cosmopolitan capital and largest city, Tunis. Sitting on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Tunis is an impressive example of traditional and modern art and architecture. This type of influence, primarily French, has impacted much of the education system in Tunisia. While there are numerous universities across the country, they are primarily in Tunis, such as Tunis University and Tunis El Manar University. The Tunisian education system has increasingly been supported by the government, allowing for university enrollment to triple over the last ten years.
There are limited study abroad options in locations outside of Tunis. Luckily, due in part to its smaller size, you would still have the chance to see the rest of the country (Hint! weekend trips to incredible ancient sights have yet to be considered a bad idea).
Study Abroad Programs in Tunisia
Course options for international students in Tunisia are highly focused — if you’re interested in examining the overlap of Middle Eastern and North African cultures or international politics, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting study abroad destination.
Tunisia is an ideal location for foreign students interested in a secular Muslim culture that plays a significant role of the rising Islamist movement. If you would like to see the site of the first Arab Spring protests and learn about the current political and social movements. When studying in Tunisia, engage in opportunities that center on International Policy and Diplomacy. This subject is a common area of study for foreign students and has components for learning specifies of Tunisia’s culture, language, and history through service learning projects.
Although Tunisia is located on the African continent, it is in a unique position where it is impacted by both North African and Middle Eastern social and cultural aspects. Foreign students will find that Middle Eastern Studies courses are popular in Tunisia for the unique role the country plays in social revolutions stemming from Middle Eastern and Arab communities.
Did we mention you can bypass being bilingual and instead head for being a triple threat? Although Arabic is the official language, French is widely spoken in business and education - classes in both languages are widely offered. Tunisia has been a popular destination for study abroad students to learn both Arabic and French.
The height of Tunisia’s tourist season is the summer, from June to August; if you’re looking to enjoy your studies in Tunisia without all of the crowds, avoid this time. However, if you prefer heading to the beach to study then the spring and summer would be the best time to start your adventure. It’s important to remember and be respectful of the fact that Tunisia has a large Islamic influence and you may have days off of school based on certain Islamic religious holidays.
Scholarships & Costs
It’s said that 80 percent of the world can live on $10 a day or less. Although that may seem impossible, in Tunisia it is. As you study in Tunisia, you can certainly keep from spending a lot of money by finding affordable housing, using public transportation, and keeping your extra curricular activities and food at a low cost. The cost of a meal at a mid range restaurant will cost you about $8, a cup of cappuccino about $.75 and a pound of chicken can cost you just under $2.
It’s also important to remember that some Tunisians make their money from selling trinkets and gifts to tourists and foreign students, like you. Affordability will not be an issue if you refrain from indulging on these luxury items every time you visit the city center.
Typical study abroad programs to Tunisia include room and board, tuition, and medical insurance. Your international and domestic airfare will need to be paid for independently from the program fee. Still worried about the pending costs? Check out GoAbroad's Study Abroad Scholarship Directory!
Accommodation & Visas
When you’re preparing for your time abroad, you will also need to consider your housing options as well. This can play a huge part in your decision making process, especially if you are looking for a particular study abroad experience. The programs available to students interested in studying in Tunisia offer dormitory style, homestay, and group living accommodations.
Dormitories can ease foreign students into their new environment by placing them in a familiar setting to their home university. However, with more freedom comes more potential issues with roommates (other students who may be noisy during all hours of the night). Homestays are sometimes a better option for students interested in engaging one-on-one with their new community. This is the ideal option if you would like to learn and participate in the language and culture of Tunisia.
Group living spaces place you in a home or facility with other program participants. This is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded students who are interested in a distinctive study abroad experience. However, by pursuing this particular accommodation you may be limited (by circumstance) with the group of individuals you socialize with, and may deter you from branching out to local communities.
Depending on your country of origin you may have specific requirements from the Tunisian government prior to your study abroad journey. Make sure you have a valid passport and you have reached out to the embassy or consulate of Tunisia in your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Tunisia is a great place for students interested in getting up close and personal to a community facing a political and social movement. This knowledge can be invaluable for students interested in international relations and diplomacy. Embrace the farmer’s tan as we recommend that you pack more modest clothing with you to wear to class and throughout the duration of your semester or summer abroad. Better safe (and less tan) than sorry (and oogled at). Invited by a byproduct of the national religion, Islam, this act invites reflection and deeper understanding of historically rooted faith-traditions in modern society.
However, due to the Arab Spring revolution, Tunisians are sometimes involved in large demonstrations, and can periodically be unsafe for foreigners and visitors. Keep your wits about you and have an emergency plan in place with your program provider should there be any uprisings.
In Tunisia, you will learn the impact of political revolutions on international relations and how social change emerges. If you are yearning for a study abroad semester unlike any other (and want to get involved with international issues first hand), then look into visiting Tunisia for a more fulfilling experience.