Where Are the Best Places to Study Abroad?

Where are the best places to study abroad?

Avoiding the Groucho Marx joke I could make about “studying a broad”, choosing a location outside of America to go to for a semester or two of college could mean the difference between an exciting educational experience and a run of the mill one.

More people are studying abroad these days, most likely due to more university participation in study abroad programs.

Studying abroad is an opportunity to learn about another culture, to learn a new subject, to experience life outside the US, and to expand your mind in all sorts of other ways. Try not to think of your time abroad as a vacation, though there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy yourself if you pick the right spot.

Here are the five best places to study abroad. These are locations where there is plenty to learn in terms of book knowledge and night life. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right?


Studying abroad in India is great if you’re looking to study “outside the box”. While your friends head to London or Scotland to study among people who share a common language, you’ll be plunking yourself down in the middle of a culture that is 180 degrees different from your own. India is an exotic study abroad destination because almost no students study there.

Where Are the Best Places to Study Abroad

Where Are the Best Places to Study Abroad

Looking for a unique study abroad experience? Pick India.

Many people in India speak English–not everyone, but enough so that you’ll be able to converse. India has a growing influence in the global business market, probably due to the fact that their population is massive and has massive buying power. India offers easy access to other exotic locations like the Maldives, Thailand, Singapore, China. All of Southeast Asia is a short trip away.

Don’t forget the serious purchasing power of the American dollar or that the country itself has plenty to offer in the way of tourist diversion. Visit the Taj Mahal on your weekend break, or take in amazing street theater between classes.

Hong Kong

If you’re a business or marketing student, Hong Kong is a perfect study abroad spot. Hong Kong is one of the busiest financial centers in Asia (right up there with Tokyo and Singapore) and as Asian countries become the dominant force in global politics and finance, an understanding of Cantonese (the other official language of Hong Kong) could benefit you as a student and future employee.

Hong Kong is the gateway to China and to all that China offers. You can experience Chinese culture in miniature in Hong Kong–a condensed form of Chinese history and tradition that may be easier to chew than a massive bite of China.

Most people don’t realize that Hong Kong’s physical beauty is a major draw. 70% of Hong Kong is covered in national parks, and the high population of Hong Kong needs something to do on weekends too, right? Experience the hustle and bustle of the Chinese economy without feeling like you’re lost in a sea of people and places.

Semester At Sea

Semester At Sea is a unique study abroad program because it allows you to study in multiple locations around the world all from the comfort of a giant cruise ship.

The ship has classrooms and carries 1000 students to venues like Puerto Rico, Brazil, South Africa, India, Singapore, Malayasia, Vietnam, China, and Japan.

Semester At Sea is designed to expose students to as many different cultures and educational opportunities as people while providing them a safe “home” to come back to. This program is known for having special guests like Desmond Tutu or Bill Clinton come speak to students and try to condense their global perspective into something the students can understand.

This program allows you to meet people from all over the USA while experiencing a slice of culture from just about every part of the world. If you’re worried about the accreditation of this program, don’t; the University of Virginia is the sponsoring university for the courses you take at sea. Courses vary from course to course, so check out Semester At Sea to find out if they’re planning to study something you’re interested in soon.


Studying abroad in Spain means learning Spanish in a country rich with culture and heritage. The Spanish people have diverse regional identities. In Catalonia, for instance, you can be exposed to a completely different language, food, and culture than in the rest of the country.

If you’re looking for an experience with variety, Spain is the place for it. Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city, officially multi-lingual, and offering everything from the arts to sport. Salamanca has some of the most spectacular Renaissance architecture in Europe, while Granada, in Andalucia, is celebrated for its Moorish and medieval architecture.

Spending a summer, semester, or even an academic year studying abroad in Spain means exposing yourself to Spanish culture and hopefully learning Spanish, a language that is becoming more important to Americans as our Spanish-speaking population increases year after year.

Medellin, Colombia

I know what you’re thinking: isn’t Medellin dangerous?

Yes, there are some issues in Colombia involving drug cartels and other unsavory groups, but these problems are confined to the people participating in drug crime, not to tourists or students. When you think about it, you are in just as much danger walking down a major street in America as you are anywhere else.

Besides, President Uribe (for all the negative talk about him) cleaned up the guerrillas and crime levels. Colombia is a beautiful and exotic location in which to study. Colombia is known for its amazing weather, meaning your time between classes can be spent soaking up the sun or relaxing by the beach.

The people of Colombia are called the friendliest people of the Americas. If you’re lost on the street there will be three or four Colombians willing to help you find your way.

Your family may worry about you while you study abroad in Medellin, but these kinds of worries are what keep Americans blind to the rest of the world. Want to get out and see a part of the world that most Americans never will? Study in Medellin, and prepare for the greatest semester of your scholastic life.

And those are my picks for the best places to study abroad. To get the most out of your experience studying abroad, have a look at this book: Study Abroad: How to Get the Most Out of Your Experience. (If you buy a copy via our Amazon link, we’ll make a small commission, too!)

This post is part of our “where are the best places” series: