PICTURE THIS: five years down the road, you’re slaving away in a cubicle. The only thing you remember about college isn’t Calculus 101, it’s that semester abroad in Amsterdam. Where the food in grocery stores is disturbingly cheap, and high-end hookers beckoned you with a “you know you want it” sensuality. Maybe you were that guy who went to the red light district and “just looked.” Still, aside from getting high and Spring Break, studying abroad was the only thing you actually remember about college. Well, maybe not the study part.
We’ve compiled 11 of the BEST PLACES TO STUDY ABROAD in 2016.
WARNING: You’ll never want to come home after this.
Take a look.
Gold Coast, Australia
With 35 miles of coastline and insane nightclubs, Gold Coast is literally “famous for fun.” Throw in a couple of pretty good universities and that’s why this city in south east Queensland tops the list of best cities to study abroad. Whether you want to cuddle with a kangaroo or swim with the sharks, this is the place to be. But careful, they bite.
“It was easy to live on a student’s budget in the Gold Coast. The easy access to public transportation pretty much anywhere in the Gold Coast made traveling around very cheap. Also, once you took the bus or tram 9 times that week, all other trips were free!!” said a student from University of Pittsburgh on Abroad101.
If “clean air” and “lots of space” are what you’re after, then Beijing isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a culture shock that’s going to zap you stupid, then this is it. Try eating live shrimp that are being killed slowly by alcohol. Yum. With 3,000 years of history under its feet, the city boasts an impressive number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, seven to be exact, and is even within short distance travel from the Great Wall of China. Don’t forget the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in hutongs serving pork skewers seasoned with mysterious spices.
Did I mention the girls in San Li Tun all look like super models?
Heredia, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s version of a college town, Heredia has both international and local students alike, who bring a unique personality to town. If you want to get out, day or night, an affordable, quick and safe 40-minute bus ride brings students to San Jose, the nearby capital and cultural center of Costa Rica. “I gained a greater appreciation for love and family from being immersed in such a close knit and loving culture.” said Meghan from Western Kentucky University.
Of if you’re into jungle adventure – Tarzan style, this is where you sign up.
French writer Alphonse de Lamartine once said: “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.” Istanbul is the intersection of Europe and Asia. This confluence of culture makes it a ridiculously interesting place to be. When you get tired from eating lamb kebabs and time traveling between Byzantium, Constantinople, and modern day Istanbul, hop in for a Turkish bath where a scantily-clad stranger will scrub and massage your body while you’re lying in a steamy room on a bed of marble.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thai food is popular worldwide, so why not go to the source! Exchange students always rave about the cuisine in Thailand. You can barter over fresh foods at the daily market and learn to cook pad thai. It’s their way of mixing sweet, salty, sour and bitter tastes which balance together to give that distinctive taste of Thailand. “Man oh man, Thai food is scrumptious, and it was so fun to roam the street vendors looking for food,” said Jaiden from Western Washington University.
Why do we go to Italy? Is it so we can stop being a nation of uncultured slobs?
To study and live in Florence is to walk the streets of Dante, Brunelleschi, Giotto and Leonardo Da Vinci. But let’s be real, most people just go for the food. Florence is the heart of Tuscany, and Tuscan food is known to be simple and abundant with local produce, mellow cheeses and grilled meats and especially white beans as the staple.
PRO TIP: learning to cook Italian IN Italy will score you points with the ladies.
“The food does not get better than Italy!” said Dylan on Abroad101, hailing from The University of Texas at Austin.
If binge drinking on home turf isn’t quite enough for you, then Dublin is your spot.
“Night life is phenomenal, and the country is small enough to have every significant sight within a short bus ride at most, ” said Stephen from University of Minnesota.
Greater Dublin is home to one third of the Irish population and Cultural heart of the “Emerald Isle”. Dublin has more green spaces per square kilometer than any other European capital – the better to keep you covered on the walks of shame.
Just don’t come back as that guy who refuses to drink Guinness in America, because “it’s soooooo much better when you actually have it in Ireland.”
Camel ride on the Sahara desert? Check. Chicken tagine at the roadside cafe? Check. Moroccan whisky without the alcohol? What the f*ck is that? Morocco is a wonderful destination where your money goes so much further than Europe. You’ll have to work for your discounts so learn a little Arabic and dress like the locals and you may even come home with money in your pocket. “Morocco is very cheap. Everything from food to transportation to entertainment is insanely inexpensive,” said Richard from American University.
Seoul, South Korea
For a ‘Seoulful’ study abroad experience, look no further than South Korea, as opportunities abound in the gleaming global mega-city of Seoul. Hosting the country’s most prestigious universities, boasting over 100 museums, and featuring one of the world’s most advanced transportation infrastructures, a semester spent studying in swanky Seoul is sure to give you an edge in this global economy.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is one of those places you never knew was so awesome until you went. And we’re not talking about the African penguins. This marvelously unique city is a cultural melting pot, with a diverse and vibrant population influenced by Zulu, Xhosa, and other African tribes, as well as Dutch, British, German, French, and Indonesian settlers.
“Although I spent a significant amount of money, I was able to accomplish ten times as many activities and experiences than I would have in any other country. Everything is significantly cheaper in South Africa, food especially, and is certainly a country to consider if you are on a budget,” said Karen from Brandeis University.
Greater Tel-Aviv is a world-class academic hub and a popular destination for international students. Four universities and a dozen colleges offer a wide range of programs all taught in English. Lonely Planet ranked Tel-Aviv as number 3 in the hottest destinations for 2011, thanks to its bustling nightlife, lively art scene, and 14-kilometer beach. One out of three residents in the city is between the ages of 18 and 35, making it a perfect location for your study abroad.
Time to have that epic adventure. Because if not in college, then when else?
Now get off your ass and get a passport.