7 Songs That Should Be at the Top of Your Abroad Playlist

Anyone who has studied abroad can tell you that there will always be a few songs that remind them of long train rides, tiny dorm pregames, and delayed flights. Finding the perfect combination of tunes that encompass all aspects of life abroad, from chasing the Northern Lights in Norway to getting a sun tan in Mykonos, is something vital to thriving abroad. Here are the top 7 songs I believe should always be coming through your headphones as a plane’s wheels leave the tarmac.  

7. "Goodnight Chicago" – Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Best heard when looking out a train window as you pass by landscapes. The constant ambiance of the deep bass and the gritty voice of RKS lead singer, Sam Melo, makes you feel like a rustic world traveler. With lyrics such as “Goodbye love, and good luck in life / And goodnight Chicago,” the song really gives you that cliché nostalgia feeling that is all too accurate. The song focuses on moving on and leaving old versions of yourself behind – and that's what traveling abroad is really all about.

6. “Dive In” – Kwassa

This one goes out to everyone studying abroad in Tel Aviv, Greece, or anywhere else where you didn’t even consider packing a winter jacket. But don’t be completely fooled by the title, it’s not just about diving into the warm Mediterranean. The song explores the desire for humans to dive into life: to see new cities, meet locals, and breathe in the crispness of international air. “Dive In” is typically on repeat when I’m about to exit the train in a location foreign to me and the sun is shining bright.

5. “Alive” – Empire of the Sun

This one goes without saying – what makes you feel more alive than somehow managing to hit 4 countries in 10 days? I like to play this song when I forget about the beauty in the mundane. The overnight trains and the over-priced airport McDonald’s makes studying abroad the experience of a lifetime just as much as a trip to the Louvre; it’s not all fancy French cafés and extravagant Irish castles. With electric measures and a chorus like “loving every minute ‘cause you make me feel most alive”, no song better encompasses the fun, growth, and excitement one experiences when exploring an entire continent all on their own accord. It also has a weird way of making you feel like you could sky dive out of an airplane.

4. “Saturday Sun” – Vance Joy

The string beat in this one just makes you feel like you’re sitting around a campfire with locals you just met, singing tunes and sharing stories. “Saturday Sun” feels like a warm blanket, and reminds you of the fun in spontaneity. The lyrics, combined with the harmony of the background ensemble, makes you feel like you are completely free, yet accompanied at the same time. The song’s lyric “oh, I met someone” gives every traveler that feeling of sentimentality and gratitude they get when they are reminded of that Irishman they drank a Guinness with that one time. Yet, the lyrics are quickly followed with “no ray of sunlight’s ever lost”, which also reminds you that there ia more sunlight to be seen, and so many other places to see it in. The song is joy and it is movement. A must on any traveler’s playlist.

3. “I Lived” – One Republic

This one is, lyrically, the ultimate. It is best listened to as your flight takes off. The ballads encompass all feelings of abroad: the discomfort, that feeling in your chest when you have made your very first steps outside of your box, and the grand nostalgia at the end when you can look back and sing “I did it all.” The entire song is a crescendo, and when the peak hits at the chorus, you truly feel as if you have just climbed Mount Everest. This, combined with the harsh drum beats, makes this tune perfect for any novice traveler who is completely naïve about what lies ahead. “I Lived” will make any listener joyful, excited, and full of aspiration.

2. “Magic in the Hamptons (feat. Lil Yachty)” – Social House

This is the chill rap ballad every student studying abroad needs. The soft piano and electronic beat in the background give you a parallel feeling to when the warm sun hits you as you’re cruising down familiar roads. And when you combine this with the constant mentions of the Hamptons in the Empire State, it gives any American listener a sense of comfort. The lyrics “come through with that magic” are perfect for any listener visiting a new city or looking out a train. And with it being only 2:45, it's honestly best heard on repeat.

1. “Gone” – JR JR

This one hit the top of my charts because it is all encompassing; there is no “best time to listen”, as this tune coming through your headphones in the midst of any abroad experience will be fantastic. The sounds of strings and whistles carry throughout the entire song, giving anyone the sense of travel and the outdoors. But then with lyrics such as “trying every door, don’t know who I’m looking over / and I’ve made up my mind”, you are empowered when walking alone through a metropolis such as London. And shortly after, the whistles return and you hear the words “But it’s all gone” and you are transported into a free fall. “Gone” makes you feel like you can conquer the world on your own terms, and can take the abroad bull by the horns in any capacity you want. Whether you’re studying in Jordan, Copenhagen, New Zealand, or Rome, this one deserve a spot at the top of any and all abroad playlists.

Listen to these songs and others through my "It Feels Good To Be Abroad" Spotify playlist!