Studying abroad…the semester (or year) when students drop everything, say goodbye to their friends, and jet halfway across the world to continue their education. It might sound like a lot of effort (and it is), but there’s no better way to challenge the mind than by getting to grips with a new country and balancing coursework at the same time.
Of course if your new surroundings aren’t up to snuff, you could be in for a long term. So that’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the best places to study abroad (in no particular order – not everything has to be ranked you know).
1. Manchester, England
I’ll admit to some personal bias when it comes to studying abroad in the UK, but even a completely impartial judge would have to pause on Manchester. It was a closely run race between the Northern city and the more popular London, but Manchester ultimately wins out thanks to considerably cheaper prices and a more unique experience than the cosmopolitan megacity.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s home to some stellar schools including the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Manchester Business School. This isn’t the Britain you’re likely to know from television (with the notable exception of Coronation Street, the longest running television show in British history), but studying in the North might just be a more memorable experience than the admittedly charming South.
2. Uppsala, Sweden
Located 71 kilometres north of Stockholm, Uppsala is the fourth largest city in Sweden with a manageable population of about 140,000. So why does it get the nod over the much larger capital? This one is mainly due to the pedigree of its school and great ‘college town’ atmosphere.
Founded in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest university across all the Nordic countries and in that time they’ve learned a few things about student life. In a throwback to the days of constant regional conflict (we assume), all students are divided into different ‘nations’, which mostly correspond to the different parts of Sweden (e.g. Norrlands, Stockholm, etc.). Think of it as a fraternity system that covers an entire county; and don’t worry, they’ll find a home for international students too. On an unrelated note, this also happens at night…
3. Sydney, Australia
This should be a no brainer. While going to school in Ontario (or most of Canada for that matter) is a great experience that was incredibly fulfilling, etcetera, etcetera…I’d frankly trade all the freezing winters and less than proficient heating for a year of higher education under the Australian sun.
There are quite a few options when it comes to Australia – including Melbourne and Gold Coast – but when it comes down to it we opted for Sydney. Both the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales are among the world’s more acclaimed schools. Plus Melbourne (despite being one of the most livable cities in the world) has relatively high international fees – so I guess you could say Sydney wins by default? Still counts.
4. Paris, France
Paris is frequently at the top of the sort of lists we look up when we have to write something like this. So it makes sense that it should make it into ours. That being said, it’s not hard to see why Paris has a rep as a one of the best places to study abroad, with a whopping 18 highly ranked universities (that’s on a worldwide scale there) – including the University of Paris, which you also might know as ‘the Sorbonne’.
The spiritual home of intellectuals, philosophers, and theorists for centuries – you can continue the great tradition of Rousseau and Voltaire by slacking off and spending all your time wandering amongst the thousands of cafes, historical sights, and other landmarks (this counts as ‘active learning’ we’re told). In all seriousness though, you’d be hard pressed to find another place to compare to Paris when it comes to higher education – plus you might (or should) even pick up some French along the way!
5. Edinburgh, Scotland
For our final city, we’ve returned to Britain once again (I did tell you about my bias right away, so no complaining). Scotland’s capital and second largest city is as perfect a mix between student friendly, large cityscape, and historical mecca that you’re likely find anywhere in the world. Large but not large enough that you can’t walk from point A to point B fairly easily, Edinburgh is one of the best places to visit in Europe – let alone spend several months studying in.
Just as Athens was home to science, medicine, and philosophy in ancient times, Edinburgh can claim the same amongst many academic fields during the Scottish Enlightenment. No wonder the city earned the nickname ‘The Athens of the North’!
Today, there are four different schools here (including the University of Edinburgh which dates back to 1582), so you can be assured you’re in good company. At the end of the day however, it’s the city that’s the star of the show. It’s just so much fun…and isn’t that what half of studying abroad is about?
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