So you’ve officially caught the travel bug, and you’re ready to jet off. That means it’s time to take the first step toward making your study abroad dreams come true: choosing your destination. Choosing the location at which to study abroad is easily one of the most important decisions you’ll make, as it’ll affect your whole experience. Luckily, we’ve created a guide to steer you in the right direction – literally!
1. For the social butterfly
You love attending events at school and meeting new people, and now you’re ready to take your social endeavors abroad! If your primary reason for going abroad is making connections and new friends, there are plenty of places with outgoing and helpful locals to fulfill your wishes.
Auckland, New Zealand
For your study abroad destination, you may want to think about Auckland, New Zealand. A gorgeous, lively, clean city perched on the harbor? No wonder that Kiwi attitude is so positive! Not only does Auckland have some beautiful views, great restaurants and impressive museums, but also, according to Condé Nast Traveler, its locals are happy and helpful!
If you’re not into the idea of traveling halfway across the globe, consider Cork, Ireland, which has been named one of the friendliest cities in the world. Located on the Southeastern coast of Ireland, it’s a beautiful seaside city with quaint buildings and helpful people. Take a trip to the beach or visit a pub to meet some local friends!
2. For the backpacker
Do you dream of making the most of your experience by country-hopping? Are airplanes and trains your favorite way to travel? Could you fit your life into a hiking backpack? Then you might consider yourself the backpacker.
If you’re looking for a prolonged Eurotrip, think about spending your semester in London, England. The language is familiar, the city is lively and, most importantly, there are multiple airports and various train stations to get you from point A to point B. No matter where you are in the city, it will always be easy to jet to off to a new destination.
Hannah Hamilton studied in London during her first semester of her junior year, and she says that London was a great fit for her. “I chose England so I could easily travel to other countries in Europe, and my flat was located very close to a number of bus and train stations that could get me around,” she says. “Overall, it was really easy to get around and visit new places!”
3. For the party person
Dreaming of sipping sangria on the beach and buying your friends a round of shots at the bar? You, my friend, are a party person. While the US has some great party scenes, there are multiple destinations abroad where you’ll have nights to remember!
If you’re looking for a party, consider taking your studies to Barcelona, Spain. The sun-drenched seaside city is just meant for sipping sangria on the beach and making new friends. Spain is an overall great destination for clubbing, and many bar and club promoters love to bring in foreigners and give free drinks to help market their scene. Just stay safe and drink responsibly, collegiettes!
In search for the best pint of beer you can find? Head to Munich – but make sure it’s during the fall semester, so you don’t miss Oktoberfest, of course! Germany is essentially one of the best places to drink, as beer is a huge part of the culture (just make sure you’re aware that the alcohol content tends to be higher in German beer). And not only is Munich home to great beer, but it’s also a great location for schools; the city is also home to a host of universities, including two of Germany’s elite.
4. For the foodie
Sure, American food is delicious, but there’s only so much we can take! If you’re dreaming of taste-testing your way around the world, we’ve got the perfect destinations for you.
Sorrento is a smaller city in southern Italy, not far from Naples. Sorrento and the surrounding area are known for fresh markets (check out the Tuesday Market and the one in Piano di Sorrento!) with various citrus fruits, nuts, olives and local wine. It’s a great place of recluse to work on your cooking while still being close enough to a bigger city if you want to travel around to other destinations. If you end up in Sorrento, we recommend trying Limoncello, a refreshing liqueur with a kick!
Want to eat where Cezanne and Hemingway once sat? Head to one of the many cafes in Aix-en-Provence, France, a graceful and lively city full of art – and food! Explore the quartier Mazarin and stop at cafes, bookstores and multiple fresh markets – perfect for all culinary endeavors.
5. For the beach bum
Wanting to escape the cold of your hometown? Dreaming of spending your semester bumming on the beach? There are several beachy destinations that could be perfect for your study abroad experience.
Luckily, Sydney, the most populous city in Australia, has plenty of beach time to offer. Brimming with history, culture, nature and art in addition to its miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches Sydney is a diverse city that’s home to a number of iconic landmarks.
Boracay, the Philippines
Two miles of soft, white sands and clear waters and one of the best tropical destinations in the world – what more could you want from a relaxing semester abroad? Boracay, a small island in the Philippines, has it all. The Philippines has diverse ecosystems, a rich cultural history, tropical rainforests and, most importantly, tons of sandy beaches for you to get your tan on!
6. For the adventurer
Sure, a semester in London or Spain sounds peachy, but you’re looking for something less traditional. If you want to roam with the elephants and climb to mountaintops, there are plenty of places for you.
Semester at Sea
Let’s hope you don’t get seasick easily, because you’re not just studying abroad—you’re studying aboard. Semester at Sea, or SAS for short, is a new way to explore new places while still working toward your degree. During the spring and fall semesters, this program (offered through the University of Virginia) takes students on a voyage across the globe. About 720 students hop on a boat and visit about 15 various countries around the globe (the stops vary each semester) while studying onboard in between stops. Talk about nontraditional!
Cape Town, South Africa
For the seasickness-prone, there are many more options – one of which is the incredibly underrated Cape Town, South Africa, the country’s oldest city. Cape Town, which has been rated one of the most beautiful cities in the world by Forbes (among others), is sandwiched between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. There’s an abundance of fun activities to do in Cape Town, like feeding wild baboons, diving or even hiking Table Mountain!
Kim Schultz, a student at Northeastern University, spent a spring semester in Cape Town and loved it. “Cities like London and Paris appealed to me at first, but in the end, I chose Cape Town because it was different,” she says. “I’m so glad I did, because I got to experience things I wouldn’t normally have the chance to, like South African festivals, adventure tours and paddle-boarding on the ocean.”
No matter your preference or primary reason for going abroad, there are plenty of awesome destinations to choose from. Just remember that no matter where you end up, you can always make your study abroad semester the experience of a lifetime!