No matter where in the world you choose to go, the benefits of studying abroad are abundantly clear for all to see. You’ll create incredible memories, make lifelong friends and gain invaluable skills that future employers in any industry will love. But what if you can get all of the above – and a little more on top – too?
To give you an idea, we’ve compiled a list of amazing schemes for those who are looking to really make the most of their student exchange programme, regardless of personal taste, geographic location or academic inclination. So, whether it’s camping in the Antarctic, excavating an ancient Mayan city or performing Shakespeare at the Globe, adventurers, culture seekers and travellers read on: these are the best study abroad programmes of 2018…
10. University of Evansville
Location: Grantham, England
Courses: Various Humanities / Social Science with British Studies
If you’re going to spend a summer abroad studying in the UK, then there are few locations outside of Oxbridge that can offer such a quintessentially English experience as this. Based within a beautiful Victorian manor house just outside the quaint countryside township of Grantham, this long-standing programme is available to most existing humanities and social sciences students, with Evansville’s permanently based faculty also offering a short supplemental ‘British Studies’ course.
If you think you may get bored of the rolling green countryside, then don’t fret, either – Harlaxton is perfectly situated an hour away from London, Manchester and Birmingham, allowing for plenty of partying and sightseeing opportunities.
9. American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)
Location: London, England
Course: Shakespeare Globe Programme
If you’d prefer to be located closer to the capital but still immersed in one of the most iconic British cultural offerings of all time, then this could be the programme for you. The AIFS offers a three-week course based at the Globe Theatre in London, where the plays of William Shakespeare were originally performed.
Targeted primarily at literature, theatre and performing arts students, the programme offers various field trips and activities, but the real draw is the opportunity to work with professional actors, designers and directors through lectures, seminars and practical scene rehearsal workshops – all in a faithful recreation of the building where the likes of Macbeth, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet were first performed.
8. Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) Abroad
Location: Rabat, Morocco
Courses: Languages (French & Arabic), various Humanities and Social Sciences
Duration: One semester
The IES offers a huge variety of study programmes all over the world, but none are as eye-catching or tempting as the opportunity to spend a semester in Rabat, a protected UNESCO World Heritage site and home to a rich blend of Moroccan and French colonial culture.
There are various humanities courses taught in English with an emphasis on North African studies, as well as beginner, intermediate and advanced level language modules for French and Arabic students. The latter are taught exclusively at the famous Université Mohammed V, adding an extra touch of sparkle to your graduate CV.
7. University College London (UCL)
Locations: Denmark, Sweden, Norway or Iceland
Course: Viking and Old Norse Studies
Duration: One year abroad (as part of a four-year course)
Newly introduced as a full-time study option in 2018, UCL’s Viking and Old Norse Studies programme – the only dedicated undergraduate UK course in this field – gives students the chance to go beyond the fiction of the hugely popular eponymous television series, and immerse themselves in the culture, history and mythology of the Viking culture. This includes getting to grips with the mother tongue, with modules offered in Old Norse as well as a modern Scandinavian language.
As a result, you’ll spend a year abroad honing your linguistic skills, with current partner institutions including:
- Copenhagen University (Denmark)
- University of Oslo (Norway)
- Gothenburg University (Sweden)
- Uppsala University (Sweden)
- University of Iceland (Reykjavik, Iceland)
6. Millsaps College
Location: Yucatan, Mexico
Course: Arts and Sciences
Millsaps College in Mississippi already has a reputation for its outstanding study abroad programmes, with summer schools available in locations as diverse as Ghana, the Galapagos Islands and Europe. The jewel in their crown, though, is the Arts and Sciences programme in Yucatan, a diverse and constantly evolving curriculum that is operated in conjunction with non-profit partner Kaxil Kiuic.
Located in a 4,500-acre tropical forest reserve in the heart of Mexico, students can take advantage of the rich biological and archaeological resources on offer, with a number of research opportunities across disciplines also available alongside the faculty-led field-based courses. The experience doesn’t end there, either: students are able to return to Yucatan throughout their studies to participate in ongoing excavations in Kiuic, an ancient Mayan city in the heart of the reserve.
5. Goshen College
Locations: China, Peru, Senegal or Tanzania
Programme: Study-Service Term (SST)
Duration: One semester
As the programme name suggests, Goshen has structured a study abroad experience that is slightly different to the norm. Rather than offering standard exchanges in the likes of Paris or Rome, students are instead sent to developing countries, where they live with host families and are expected to contribute to the local community alongside their studies.
This is part of the university’s attempt to instil a true sense of global awareness in participants, with language and culture classes supplemented by practical development projects, especially in remote areas. The programme celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Over 7,500 students have benefitted from the resultant exposure and opportunity to make a difference so far.
4. American Universities International Programs (AUIP)
Location: Antarctica (Antarctic Peninsula and Ushuaia, Argentina)
Programme: Human Impacts on a Fragile Environment
Duration: Two-week field trip (as part of one digital semester)
For many students, the biggest benefit of studying abroad is using it as an opportunity to travel and visit places they would never otherwise see. This couldn’t be more evident than in AUIP’s social and environmental sciences offering, which allows students the once-in-a-lifetime chance to spend two weeks on the harsh and expansive continent of Antarctica.
Focusing on the physical and ecological systems of the region, as well as the human impact upon them, the course can be implemented into existing degree programmes at a number of educational institutions, meaning you’ll receive credits for your adventures into the wilderness. If you’ve ever wanted to follow in the 200-year long footsteps of some of the world’s most famous explorers, whalers and scientists – and camp under the midnight sun in the process – then this is most definitely the programme for you.
Duration: Anything from a semester to a year
If you’re studying – or intend to study at – a European university, then it’s highly likely that Erasmus has an agreement in place with your school. Indeed, the European Union’s flagship mobility programme has been hosting exchange agreements since 1987, merging with other EU youth schemes to form Erasmus+ in 2014.
Over 3 million students have participated during that time, with more than 4,000 universities across 37 countries signing up. The popularity of the programme has even coined the term ‘Erasmus Generation’, which is used to describe what many analysts believe is the formation of a pan-European political movement by Erasmus graduates.
Although the availability of courses is down to the individual partner institutions, nearly every department has links across the continent, with many courses taught in English. Politics and international relations students are particularly encouraged to take part in the programme, with many universities making overseas study compulsory.
2. Wake Forest University
Location: Venice, Italy
Programme: Italian and Art History
Duration: One semester (summer options also available)
There are several entries on this list that boast remarkable surroundings, but few are as breath-taking as Wake Forest’s Casa Artom. Situated at the mouth of Venice’s Grand Canal, the former US Embassy headquarters is a stone’s throw from the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and just a short walk from the Piazza San Marco – a truly incredible base from which to immerse yourself in the study of art and the Italian language.
Hosted by the university’s faculty and taught in English, only 20 students are admitted each academic year. If you’re one of the lucky few, though, you’ll be guaranteed an experience you’ll never forget. If you’ve ever wanted to learn about Canaletto, Bellini and Guardi in the mezzanine of a beautiful 19th Century Venetian canal house, it simply doesn’t come more authentic, more beguiling or more exclusive than this.
1. Guilford College
Location: Merano, Italy
Duration: One semester
In order to top Casa Artom, the number one entry on this list had to be something remarkable: Guilford College’s Brunnenburg programme – situated just three hours north of Venice – is most certainly that.
Studying a combination of humanities and environmental science subjects, the 14 lucky students who get accepted on to the programme spend their entire 3-month stay living in the 'croft' of the Brunnenburg, a 12th Century medieval castle overlooking the border town of Merano and the Italian Alps. The castle also boasts a fully working farm and vineyard (which students are expected to work on) and with regular foot excursions into the surrounding areas – as well as easy access to the likes of Salzburg, Vienna and Verona – there’s plenty to see and do.
Sundays are also filled with academic discourse, too. The castle’s owner, Mary de Rachewitz, is the daughter of famed American poet Ezra Pound and hosts an afternoon tea where students are encouraged to discuss poetry, music and other artistic pursuits. If you want to get lost in a different time period and surround yourself with some of the most beautiful nature in the world, then this could be just the ticket.
As you can see, there is an absolute wealth of student exchange and study abroad programmes on offer, tailored and targeted to suit whatever your goals and aspirations may be. Whether it’s poring over Renaissance art in the backstreets of Venice or digging wells in a village in Senegal, there are also numerous personal and professional rewards and benefits that you will undoubtedly gain from the experience.
Of course, these are some of the more remarkable programmes on offer, but your experiences will be life-changing wherever you go. In the meantime, visit your school’s website or faculty department to find out where you could end up, and how you can make the most of whatever opportunities are available.
Have you studied abroad? Where did you go? Let us know in the comments below!