Guest Post by Ryan Carter, an avid traveler and student.
Speaking in the fancy language of the academy, experts extol the virtues of international study, saying, “It affords students unparalleled opportunities for immersion in cultures far different from their own, empowering them with mastery of language and more-than-passing familiarity with customs and traditions centuries, even millennia, in the making.” Students themselves tend to be more direct and pragmatic, noting, “I never again will enjoy this freedom to travel and explore, and potential employers will like seeing international experience on my resume.” For just a few dollars more than a regular semester at your American college, you can enjoy all the benefits of study abroad.
American students have opportunities to study in nearly 100 different countries. This list highlights five perennial student favorites:
Not surprisingly, Great Britain tops the list of American students’ study abroad destinations, because the people speak a language very closely resembling English, and British history and culture seem familiar and accessible to students from the United States. Great Britain and the United Kingdom also feature a wide array of programs from which to choose, spanning the range from high school to Ph.D. and offering the same choice of majors and emphases students find in their American colleges and universities. Humanities majors particularly gravitate to Britain, pursuing their passions for Shakespeare and the British Romantic poets. Political science and economics majors follow a very close second, eager to compare and contrast government and mercantile systems in two of the world’s premier democracies. Maybe most importantly, Great Britain numbers among the most affordable study abroad destinations, and summer programs often include reduced airfares and low-cost lodging.
Arguably the most beautiful country in Latin America and one of the most geographically diverse, Argentina has risen “with a bullet” in international students’ ratings and rankings. American students typically choose “Spanish immersion” programs, so that they may perfect their Spanish-language skills while they plunge into Latin American history and culture; many complement their language study with immersion in Spanish and Latin American literature, especially including the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Octavio Paz. Heavily influenced by European culture, Buenos Aires enchants international students, who love its historic neighborhoods and vibrant nightlife. Several American universities offer Spanish immersion programs in Argentina, but Argentina’s own 38 public universities welcome hundreds of thousands of visiting students every year under the auspices of literally dozens of study abroad programs.
Several major art and architecture schools either recommend or require study in Italy, where the European renaissance seems still to flourish. Classicists also go to Italy to immerse in ancient manuscripts or to study Roman design and engineering. Italy claims one unique distinction among pre-professional students: It especially seduces aspiring chefs who want to learn the nuances of haute cuisine and perfect their skill with subtle flavors and delicate sauces. Eager to learn the secrets of Italian agriculture and wine-making, botany and viticulture majors follow close behind the apprentice chefs. Italy stands-out as one of the premier destinations for summer session students who can take advantage of excursion airfares and discounted lodging.
Study in Japan puts students at the crossroads of ancient culture and post-modern trend, a mix uniquely Japanese. Japanese programs are especially accessible to students willing to teach English while they study Japanese language and culture. Several of the most prominent Japanese programs combine internships with coursework and cultural exploration. Temple University’s Japan campus, however, stands-out as by far the best-known and most prestigious among Japanese programs. American students in Temple’s program study side-by-side with Japanese students, enjoying the convenience of instruction in English while completing internships that challenge their mastery of Japanese.
Students love the land down under, because people there, too, speak a language which closely resembles English, and students frequently characterize Australian culture as “extreme southern California…with a cute accent.” Students from universities in the upper Midwest especially love Australia because it provides a properly academic escape from winter cold and snow. Biology, zoology, and anthropology majors find Australia especially attractive because of its exotic wildlife, distinctive climate and vegetation, and respect for aboriginal culture. The only country that doubles as a continent, Australian schools, colleges, and universities offer high school, undergraduate, and graduate programs for an academic year, a semester, or for the American summer. Many offer internship and volunteer opportunities to complement classroom work.
The big schools are called “universities” because they make the whole universe and everything in it subjects of intense intellectual scrutiny. While you are inquiring into the wisdom and spirit of the universe, capitalize on special opportunities to look at yourself, the world, and the cosmos from a different perspective, examining with different values and expectations, considering with a different sense of history. Alumni of study abroad programs most often say, “I now see the world through much different eyes.”
Ryan Carter is an avid traveler and student earning his masters in forensic accounting online to become more marketable.