Study Abroad in Western Europe

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Western Europe

Study abroad in Western Europe is overwhelmingly popular. This is, in part, because studying in Western Europe puts students in close proximity to many different countries (and travel destinations!) as well as immense cultural variety; these are two huge factors that attract international students to study abroad in Western Europe (as evidenced by nearly every alumni review). Students can choose to study in one country, but still have easy access to many other countries via a short plane flight or train ride, and this freedom to move about is enticing. Not only will students be able to learn from their host country, they will also have the chance to learn from exploring the entire region!


The most commonly held definition of Western Europe encompasses the following countries (though keep in mind this is somewhat debatable): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Clearly there are many countries to choose from if you decide to study abroad in Western Europe, so the decision can be tough. To help you choose the ideal place for you, check out the following popular destinations for starters:

Italy is one of the world’s most influential countries, when it comes to fashion and food, and is booming with culture and history. Students who choose to study abroad in Italy will have plenty of options in terms of both universities and programs. International students are welcomed with a smile and a warm Ciao! by locals. Rome and Florence tend to be the most popular cities for study abroad in Italy, and not surprisingly since they are also two of the largest cities in the country.

France is centrally located and a country that many students are drawn to for study abroad in Western Europe. Bordered by nine different countries, France instantly creates a network of possible travel destinations for students. France has a rich history and tradition when it comes to education, and there are consequently many different locations for students to choose from. Two popular, and yet very different, destinations for study abroad in France are the capital city of Paris and Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France. France is a particularly good option for students who are drawn to stinky cheese!

As one of the top destinations for study abroad in the world, Spain draws students from all around the world. Greatly influenced by Europe as well as Northern Africa, Spain has a warm, unique blend of culture and history. International students generally flock to Spain’s major cities for study abroad, including Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, and Granada. Spain also prides itself on its fantastic leisure time. From delicious tapas dinners with sobremesa to long lunches followed by a siesta, studying abroad there is sure to be a delight!

Germany boasts over 300 institutions of higher learning, so you will definitely find somewhere to study abroad in Germany! Since the 1980s, Germany has become a unified country and built a booming economy across many sectors, making it an even more prosperous place for study abroad. The two most popular cities for study abroad in Germany are Berlin and Munich; with low tuition fees and a reasonable cost of living, Germany is a wonderful option for anyone looking to experience study abroad in Western Europe on a budget. 

Study Abroad in Western Europe

A lot of students are drawn to study abroad in Western Europe because of the region’s history, languages, and conviviality. These characteristics give students the opportunity to choose from a variety of subjects across many different fields of study.

Students can take art history in Florence and study Michelangelo's David as well as all the great renaissance artists. In Paris, students can learn French language while taking fashion design courses, all while being inspired by the same city that inspired Coco Chanel. In Granada, students can learn about the history of Flamenco and Spanish music, and then go watch the locals perform before these traditions in person. Those who study abroad in Germany will be able to explore European history and then go outside and see the locations mentioned in their textbooks. All of these opportunities to witness the subjects you are studying first hand are one of the many reasons students dream of studying abroad in Western Europe, and benefit so immensely from doing so. 

There is no particular time of the year when it is best to study abroad in Western Europe as a whole; it is best to decide what works best for you and what time of the year your program of interest is available. However, students should keep in mind that most Western European countries experience four seasons. Aside from seasonal considerations, students should be aware that the traditional school year is about the same across the entire region, with classes starting around the beginning of September and running until early to mid-June. There are usually breaks over the winter holidays and in the spring, as well as a fall break in the beginning of November.

Depending on what study abroad program or university students choose, knowing the local language may or may not be required. Typically universities instruct all classes in the national language of the country, so a certain level of fluency is required of international students. On the other hand, study abroad programs in Western Europe offered by third-party providers usually offer courses in English. If you are taking courses at a local university, you should make sure to adhere to the local classroom culture, whether that be more strict or more relaxed than what you are used to. In general, trying to learn the basics of a country’s language will help you not only in the classroom but also outside of it. The locals will definitely recognize your effort!

Accommodation & Visas

Living arrangements in both rural and urban areas will typically be comfortable for international students studying in Western Europe. Accommodations can range from apartments with other students to homestays. Usually program providers or universities will ask students what their preferred housing is prior to arrival, and if you have any special requests or limitations (i.e. if you have a disability or a food allergy).

Visa requirements and costs will vary from country to country and you should check with your local embassy or consulate to determine what you will need. If you are studying abroad through a program provider they will be able to help you with obtaining a visa. Usually your home institution will help you with this process as well. You will absolutely need a passport that is valid six months after your stay, no matter what country you are going to.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Diversity. With the variety of countries in this region, students will be able to learn from all sorts of backgrounds. Being able to immerse themselves in Western Europe’s history and culture is an opportunity that you cannot find elsewhere due to how easy it is to travel and explore!

Price. Although there is so much to learn and discover, Western Europe is a bit pricey. Students should take into account how much they have to spend and budget wisely. This way they can get the most out of their time abroad!

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Western Europe


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Voyager Study Abroad

Voyager Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands) - we are the experts in summer, multi-country, programs in Europe! We are the innovators of the home-away-from-home design. Our participants keep their own room in a modern residence in an upscale Madrid neighborhood for the entire 30 days. We take four separate multi-day trips by plane or high-speed train from our hub...


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Study in the UK with Free Guidance from Across the Pond

Across The Pond are the official North American representative for Semester and Year long programs across Scotland, England, and Wales. Our UK Study Experts provide free one to one support and guidance on researching and applying to UK universities, and each of first-hand knowledge of studying in the UK.


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German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

This specialized DAAD program offers up to ten German Studies Research Grants to highly qualified undergraduate and graduate students who are nominated by their department/program chairs. The grant may be used for short-term research (one to two months) in either Germany or North America.


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American Institute For Foreign Study

Study abroad programs in Western Europe, open to American students, are available through the American Institute for Foreign Studies (AIFS). Program locations include but are not limited to Italy, Spain, and England. Students can study a range of courses and participate in year long or semester long programs depending on the location. Many countries offer courses in History, Business, and the A...


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IES Abroad (Institute for the Int'l Education of Students)

International participants from the United States and many other countries can enroll in study abroad programs in Europe with IES Abroad. Students can experience new cultures while studying at universities in Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and other European countries. Course offerings include Art History, Sociology, and Religious Studies.


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Boston University Study Abroad in Europe

Live and study in Western Europe through Boston University Study Abroad program. Combining academic course work, Spanish language and culture studies, students should anticipate for a fun and educational experience and an amazing semester stay in one of the great countries in Europe. American students will have an opportunity to experience European culture and study at a prestigious universitie...


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Adelante Abroad

Relish in the sweeping Scottish countryside on the outskirts of the capital city of Edinburgh. This 4 week Equine Study Abroad Program includes courses in equine anatomy and physiology and equine fitness, as well as hands on experience with English style riding. Animal science and pre-veterinary students will find this program most beneficial. However, the program is open to any major and no ...


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Athena Study Abroad's Semester and Summer Programs

Athena Study Abroad was established with the aim of providing high-quality study abroad experiences combined with authentic cultural immersion. Programs are designed with student's academic and personal needs in mind. Study programs are available in a range of European countries, including England, Greece, and Italy.


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Low Cost Academic Programs with CSA !

Journey to Europe while studying for a semester or a full academic year with the Center for Study Abroad. Students from all over the globe can gain a better understanding of the history, culture, and language of the Czech Republic, France, and 9 other European countries. This program offers courses fields including European Studies, International Relations, and Ethnic Studies.


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Study Abroad with Syracuse University

Syracuse University offers programs to study in Western Europe for the whole academic year. American participants can choose from a wide range of courses such as Journalism, Communications, and Art History.


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University Studies Abroad Consortium

Students get the chance to study abroad in highly sought-after European destinations through the programs offered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium. With over three decades of experience in the field, the organization has gained the expertise necessary to create excellent programs that are unparalleled in quality. Program locations include Denmark, England, Germany, and more.


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Academic Programs International (API)

This API programs in the Western European region gives students the opportunity to pick among a wide variety of academic courses such as Film, International Policy and Diplomacy, Sports, and a whole lot more. Participants will indulge in the combination of Western European cultures as they receive high quality education, earn units of college credit, and explore the way of life in the region.


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Study Abroad Programs

Study abroad in Western Europe with ISA. A number of well-rounded educational programs await the participants in different locations. Participants will gain knowledge on their chosen fields of discipline while taking a closer look at the region's colorful region and delving into their various languages.


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Study Abroad with CIEE

Join the Council on International Educational Exchange international academic studies programs in Western Europe. There is a variety of areas of study to choose from including Liberal Arts, Humanities, Arts and Sciences, and many others. Stay in one of the selected countries in Western Europe and experience the sophistication and vibrancy of European culture and lifestyle. Participants from all...