10 Popular Study Abroad Destinations That Are Practically All-American
Studying abroad provides so many phenomenal opportunities for college kids looking to soak up brand new perspectives, experiences, languages, and cultural mores. But some American students might find things a little more comfortable if they start out in a part of the world that reminds them of home. Rather than plunging directly into international travel, they slowly expose themselves to more and more stimuli over time. And that’s OK! For some, this might mean heading to a nation culturally and linguistically similar to the United States, or one incredibly popular with other globetrotting Americans. While we encourage anyone participating in a study abroad program to seek out as many new people and ideas and cultures as possible, we do understand that some people might want to first explore their wanderlust in a more familiar milieu. Consider one or more of the following!
American accreditation institutions recognize most of Perugia’s universities, and it remains an incredibly popular study abroad destination as a result. Infamous for the Amanda Knox murder trial, students from the United States flock here for the apparently hedonistic atmosphere of reckless sex, substance abuse, and permissible law enforcement. Around 40,000 foreign students, most of them American or British, call the city home, too, out of 163,000 total residents. Despite its reputation as the Amsterdam of the Mediterranean, Perugia boasts incredible art and architecture for the more subdued academics out there.
Second only to the United States in terms of how many foreign students attend school there every year, in fact, though the numbers look at the United Kingdom as a whole. Even factoring out the “dominant language is English” part, the international atmosphere of London will definitely seem homier to study abroad enthusiasts from notably diverse American cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston. 2010 saw an increase of 27% in the number of students from the United States applying to various schools in and near England’s capital, owing largely to the comparatively lower tuition costs.
While not as popular as England, U.S.-born study abroad students consider Dublin the second most livable destination, after Melbourne, Australia (more on that city lately). Culturally, the Irish and Americans share a similarly relaxed, fun-loving outlook, and over 83 university programs connect the two nations together. For university kids unsure about engaging in academic opportunities overseas, Ireland’s capital might prove the most comfortable experience because of its comparative familiarity. About 7,000 American students head to the Emerald Isle yearly, and the Irish government hopes to boost those numbers through a benefit-laden “ambassador” program.
While nobody could accuse Parisians of acting “too American,” that doesn’t change the fact that their nation remains one of the top 10 study abroad destinations. Ideal for literature, art, and foreign language majors especially, schools such as the Sorbonne provide enrollees from all nations with a world-class education recognized in the United States. Homesick American students enjoy access to plenty of organizations available to expats helping them integrate into the city’s culture.
Germany also happens to sit in the top 10 study abroad destinations for American students wanting to conduct their educations overseas. Both Berlin and Munich host some excellent programs, and 16% of the former’s population is made up of international students attending one of the three universities based out of it. They may not necessarily all be from the United States but still understand the unique issues of living overseas more than the surrounding residents, though.
Seoul, South Korea:
Students participating in the polling at Study Abroad 101 laud Seoul as the friendliest city on earth when it comes to welcoming Americans. As one of the most “Westernized” cities in all of East Asia, the capital makes for an ideal destination to consider for new globetrotters who prefer easing into cultures rather than splashing right in immediately. Korean food is amazing, but long-term stays might dredge up cravings for KFC and other familiar staples of the American diet, which happen to boast Seoul locations. And the nearby Air Force base provides opportunities to make a few friends from back in the States if, for whatever reason, the other students don’t pan out. But meeting people shouldn’t be too much of an issue. At Seoul National University alone, 15% of the lectures are conducted in English in order to meet the needs of students speaking it as their primary language.
Wellington, New Zealand:
It’s friendly and it’s fun, but try not to badger the locals too much about Hobbits, OK? Head here to something more laid-back that doesn’t require a second language (which – let’s face it – is not exactly a strong point for most Americans) and allows for a little bit of free time on some showstopping beaches. Organizations such as Fulbright New Zealand promote exchange and diplomacy between the United States and the eponymous Oceania nation, with both providing 75 grants and awards yearly to promising students.
As with other English-speaking nations, enough cultural overlap exists between Americans and Australians to make the latter demographic comfortable. But the fact that over 180 different nations and 140 languages are represented in its overall citizenry of 4 million, students who love the “melting pot” element of major metropolitan areas will not walk away disappointed. Like Seoul, Sydney boasts the honor of being named one of the three friendliest cities in the world for homesick American kids.
For linguistic and cultural reasons, it makes perfect sense that other former British colonies tend to get along better in study abroad scenarios. Both Melbourne and Sydney sport beautifully diverse populations, and the former sits in a state sporting some of the planet’s most showstopping scenery and, for biology majors, numerous opportunities to study their unique flora and fauna. Seventeen percent of American students stationed in Australia go for the good times to be found in Victoria.
Spain stands as the third most common destination for American students attending classes overseas. As with Perugia and other Mediterranean locales popular with travelers from the United States, the rollicking nightlife serves as a major draw. To the point natives comment on their sheer numbers and decide where to go based on how many American kiddos they might encounter while out on the town.