If you’re thinking of taking your studies outta town, you’re not alone.
The number of college students that study abroad has tripled in the past 20 years, with more than 310,000 students visiting foreign lands in 2014 and 2015, according to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
Whether you want to explore a new culture, pick up a new language or just spread your scholarly wings, here are some of the top spots to study abroad. And for those of you who want to explore closer to home, no worries. We’ve got you covered, too.
The United Kingdom is the No. 1 destination for U.S. students studying abroad, according to the Open Doors Report. And why not? It’s 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 – so much so it’s the second most popular spot to study abroad. 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.
Three percent of U.S. students that study abroad spend their time in the Irish capital, according to the Open Doors report. 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 draws 3 percent of U.S. study abroad 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.
Visit AAA.com for study-abroad essentials like passport photos, international driving permits and a Visa TravelMoney card. You can also talk to a AAA travel counselor about some great side trips to expand your experience.
Did you study abroad? Tell us about it in the comments.