If you’re thinking of taking your studies out of the country, you’re not alone. After over a year of being on hold due to the pandemic, study abroad programs are starting to ramp up again and students are anxious for the opportunity. While there are extra challenges to navigate like travel restrictions and warnings from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, studying abroad is surely making a comeback.
Europe is consistently the most popular destination for U.S. students studying abroad with 44% choosing to go to Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Ireland, according to the most current data from the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report and the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Asia and Latin America are also top picks.
If you are looking for inspiration, here are some of the top spots to study abroad. And for those who want to explore a little closer to home, no worries. We’ve got you covered, too.
London is a heady mix of history, culture and unforgettable sights, including the Elizabeth Tower (which houses Big Ben), Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. In your down time, you can check out various props, costumes and sets where all eight Harry Potter movies were filmed.
The food. The art. The historic surroundings. What’s not to love? U.S. students adore the Eternal City, too. Students spending time here can explore the treasures of the Vatican and the Basilica of St. Peter, the Colosseum, the Roman ruins and gorgeous works inside the Galleria Borghese.
Artists, foodies and history buffs will find plenty to do in Spain’s capital city. The Prado Museum is home to works by Rembrandt, Titian and Rubens, while you can see Picasso’s masterpiece “Guernica” at the Reina Sofia Museum. A visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without sampling tapas and churros con chocolate in the La Latina district.
Thank goodness semesters last four months. Otherwise you’d run out of time trying to explore the City of Light. English and literature majors can see the haunts of ex-pats like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, while fans of impressionism will be entranced by the Musee d’Orsay. Of course, any visitor must set aside time to see the classic sites like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame.
Spend some time in Ireland’s capital. The ancient city is home to Trinity College and the Book of Kells, while fans of James Joyce can view the sites that inspired “Ulysses” and “Dubliners.” After a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, browse the treasures inside the (free!) National Gallery of Ireland.
Art majors will lose their hearts in this Tuscan city. Michelangelo’s “David” is housed in the Galleria dell’Accademia, while Uffizi Gallery is full of Renaissance masterpieces, including Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Titian’s “Venus of Urbino.” And for the best selfie ever, grab your phone and head west – the Leaning Tower of Pisa is just an hour’s drive away.
7. Sydney, Australia
At first glance, it’s easy to see why Australia’s largest city is a draw for U.S. students: the glorious beaches. But if you look closer, you’ll discover that it has a fascinating history, a burgeoning dining and nightlife scene and a plethora of outdoor activities to explore in your downtime, from touring the rugged coastline to exploring the wild Blue Mountains.
With more than 100 islands and miles of connecting canals, Venice is one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. Students here can explore the glass-making region of Murano to the city’s Grand Canal to the centrally located Piazza San Marco. Visit the Rialto market, where the locals gather to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables and fish, to get a feel for daily life in the city.
9. Washington, D.C.
If you’d rather explore U.S. history, where better to begin than the nation’s capital. Here you can get up close with the Constitution, view the White House, U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, and visit any number of memorials. Cash-strapped students, take heed: All of the Smithsonian’s D.C.- area museums, galleries – and even its zoo – are free.
10. Los Angeles
Inject some glamour into your studies by hitting the books in Tinseltown. You’ll never feel alone in the nation’s second-biggest city, with a population of 4 million. But L.A. is more than just Hollywood and sunny skies; you can discover the region’s natural beauty in the San Gabriel Mountains and the many beaches along the Pacific Coast.
Did you study abroad? Tell us about it in the comments.