Last week, we dove into why studying abroad is important. This week, it’s all about location, location, location. Most people know they want to study abroad but once on the path to do that, the big question becomes where. There are plenty of reasons why people study in a particular location: budget, family, study concentration. The bottom line is that you need to do what’s right for you. We’ve broken it down in a few categories to help you decide and included some tips from people who have been abroad themselves.
Location by Language
If you have no interest in learning a foreign language or acclimating to one, English-speaking countries are going to narrow it down for you (ie. England Australia, Ireland). If you are studying a specific language and want to focus on those studies, the same principle applies. Certain languages will offer more options. For example, if you’re studying Spanish you can go to Spain, Mexico, many countries in Southern American, Puerto Rico and more. French you can venture to France, Canada (Montreal), Belgium, several countries in Africa plus others. Italian will be mostly in Italy, same with Greek, German, Polish and other languages. So if language is a huge factor in your decision, we recommend researching countries that use the language you’re studying and narrow it down from there.
Location by Study Concentration
“I studied in London due to my love of English culture as well as literature, theatre, and archives/libraries,” says Dannie of Stile.Foto.Cibo. For Dannie, London was an ideal choice for her particular study concentration. If you are interested in or studying art history, Italy would be a fantastic option with Florence being the home of the Italian Renaissance. If you like to study wine, France is a place we'd recommend considering it’s one of the largest wine producers in the world. I took the History of Oenology in my Parisian program learning from a brilliant man I still quote to this day. So if you’re looking to further a concentration in your education, research program details. Some classes and themes are only offered in particular countries which will help in narrowing down your search.
Location by Budget
Budgeting is something most college students have to grapple with. It’s the main reason a lot of students don’t study abroad because the investment can be too much. If you are dead set on studying abroad, there are more budget-friendly options. Many countries with a low exchange rate can often be great options for low budgets. Just make sure to do a good amount of research before committing. How much will what you’re able to spend be able to get you? If it’s cutting it close or not enough, don’t put yourself in a potentially bad situation. Immediately cross off your list anywhere with a high cost of living. Paris is not a cheap city to study in but you might look into Toulouse or Lyon which is home to universities you might be able to exchange at. Berlin, Vienna and Mexico City area also budget-friendly options. If you can’t afford a program, research exchange programs and scholarships. There are options out there, you just have to find them.
Location by Choice
For those who don’t need to adhere to any particular qualifications, think about what you like to do, where you like to eat. What do you enjoy in your daily life? Apply this to your study abroad research. Do you love to cook? Why not study abroad somewhere with a food program? Do you love theater? Like Dannie, look into England as their theater history is incomparable. Do you enjoy a particular historical era? Visit Italy for the Renaissance, France for the Revolution, Ireland for Gaelic history, Mexico City for the Aztecs. Take your personal interests and use them to narrow down your search when choosing a city. You’ll end up finding a city or country that you will no doubt love.
You’ve Chosen Your Destination...Now What?
“Immerse yourself!” says Dannie. “Don’t just be a tourist. Go to the places where the locals go. Experience that country or city the way a native would.” Leave your apartment or dorm as much as possible. The best part of studying abroad is that everything is new all the time. There are an infinite amount of things to explore and places to discover. Don’t waste your time or money by watching TV (if you’re lucky enough to have one) in your room. Meet people, talk to locals, get inside tips on where to grab a drink or where to experience the best pho. Just get out!
If you have the time and the budget, “take the time to travel outside of that country as well” says Dannie. I did not personally get to travel outside of France but I did have a chance to get out of Paris. We took a weekend trip to the Loire Valley where I found my future dream home, Amboise. Like Dannie mentioned, as wonderful and exciting as your new temporary home is, being able to expand your horizons and conquer more destinations will only enhance your experience. It’s something I wish I would have been able to do more and something others consider the most rewarding part of studying abroad.
Are you planning to study abroad soon or have you studied abroad before? Tell us in the comments below!