Studying abroad can offer tremendous benefits for college students, including the opportunity to develop language skills, explore varying worldviews, make friends across the globe and enjoy immersion in another culture — all while working toward a degree. If you’re thinking about going abroad, you may need to set aside plenty of time to plan and prepare for the experience. One of the first decisions you should consider is which country to visit.
There are many countries to study abroad in, which can make it difficult to choose. To determine the best places to study abroad, think about your career goals and personal interests as you explore the following list of popular destinations for college students.
In This Article:
What Are the Best Places To Study Abroad?
The best country to study abroad can be the one that is aligned with your career goals and personal interests. Of course, there may be multiple destinations that could fit this description for any given student. Some countries to study abroad in include the following:
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina is often referred to as the “Europe of South America,” and its capital, Buenos Aires, perfectly epitomizes its mish-mash of cultural influences. Buenos Aires welcomes immigrants and foreign students with open arms, introducing them to a rich cultural heritage, exceptional education and a warm, friendly ambience.
Although Buenos Aires is a large, densely populated city, its neighborhoods embody an old-world, neighborly feel. You may love the high quality of life, including the excellent cuisine and recreational opportunities. Plus, the Argentine capital boasts some of the best universities in South America.1 No matter what you’re planning on studying, you can undoubtedly find a suitable program here.
2. Montevideo, Uruguay
Uruguay is a relatively small country, but it offers big opportunities for students interested in studying here. It’s one of the best countries to study abroad in thanks to its rich and fun culture, great academics and unbeatable tropical climate. Montevideo — Uruguay’s capital and most populous city — is a port town that offers a spectacular coastline.2
Here, you’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, plenty of picturesque scenes, and notable landmarks such as the Solis Theatre and the Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral. The city offers a lively cultural scene, with lots of museums, theater productions, festivals and live music. And of course, you’ll find some top schools here, as well. Montevideo also offers an affordable cost of living, making it a particularly attractive option for students.2
3. Anywhere in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a popular destination for students, with its gorgeous beaches, tropical rainforest and historic cities. It’s difficult to pick just one destination in Costa Rica that is perfect for international students, as there are a slew of them. If you’re thinking of traveling here, you’ll need to choose between schools in populous cities or schools near quieter towns set against the backdrop of the rainforest or coastline.
Here’s a look at a few of the more popular destinations in Costa Rica for international students:
- San José: This lively and modern city offers lots of museums, galleries, restaurants and parks.
- Heredia: Heredia is a charming, historic town known for its coffee plantations, as well as popular destinations like the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
- Monteverde: This small town is popular among students majoring in environmental studies and other sciences. Set against the rainforest and close to the dry tropical plains, Monteverde boasts one of the rarest forms of forests — a cloud forest.3 A visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve is a must.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
If you have your sights set on studying abroad in Europe, consider Lisbon. The capital of Portugal, Lisbon offers big-city amenities with a small-town feel. It’s a major hub for international students from Europe and around the world. Although it offers high quality of life, the cost of living is quite reasonable, especially when compared to other European cities like Paris. Plus, you can choose from a variety of universities, including the University of Lisbon.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Another city that offers a reasonable cost of living for international students is Prague, Czech Republic. It’s a thrilling choice for any student interested in architecture, with its endless spires and tiled rooftops. Prague offers incredible entertainment (including an exceptional live music scene), delicious food and reasonable housing.
Here, students can find one of the oldest universities in the region: the Univerzita Karlova. Other top-ranked schools include the University of Chemistry and Technology and the Czech Technical University.4
6. Johannesburg, South Africa
There’s a lot to love about Johannesburg in South Africa. Although it’s not the capital, Johannesburg is a cultural and economic hub that is home to a highly diverse population. It’s a popular destination for international students, as it offers some of the top universities in Africa with a wide range of degree programs.
Johannesburg is a particularly attractive option for business students. As a business and financial hub in South Africa, this city offers internship, job training and other networking opportunities.5
The “City of Gold” is a progressive town that offers pleasant weather year-round, lots of entertainment possibilities and incredible cultural heritage. You’ll enjoy theater, art galleries, museums, sporting events, outdoor recreation and much more. If you feel like going off the beaten path, travel just north of the city to find the Cradle of Humankind — a UNESCO World Heritage Site where a significant percentage of all known human ancestor fossils, dated to millions of years ago, have been uncovered by archaeologists.6
7. Berlin, Germany
If you’re interested in studying in a very large city and don’t mind that the cost of living is on the steep side, you might consider Berlin, the capital of Germany. It’s a particularly attractive option for students interested in history and international relations. Plus, it offers some of the best universities in Europe, such as the Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.7
Beyond the classroom, Berlin offers a dynamic arts and music scene, renowned food halls and diverse markets. It’s known for welcoming immigrants and their cultural influences; in particular, Berlin has a large community of Turkish expats. In short, Berlin is a great destination for students who are interested in meeting people from all over the world and exploring other worldviews.
How To Choose From the Best Countries To Study Abroad
There is no one best country to study abroad in. If you’re having trouble choosing where to go, it may be helpful to do some brainstorming. First, write a list of all of the destinations that you’ve dreamt of visiting. Then, write a list of everything that you’re looking for in a study abroad destination (e.g., affordability, excellent academics or a specific program of study).
Next, talk to the staff at your school’s study abroad program. They can help you get acquainted with your options and discuss what you can expect. If possible, talk to other students who have completed study abroad programs in the destinations that you’re considering. Lastly, look for a program that is aligned with your major, personal interests and career goals.
Grand Canyon University (GCU) encourages students to learn from a variety of worldviews and to experience the benefits of cultural and language immersion. GCU’s study abroad partnerships offer students the opportunity to choose from a wide range of study abroad destinations, including those with international internship opportunities available. Fill out the form on this page to learn about joining our dynamic learning community online or on campus.
1 CIEE. (n.d.). Study Abroad in Argentina. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
2 Wood, J. (2023). Living in Uruguay. ExpatExchange. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
3 Peters, M. (2022). A walk in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
4 UniRank. (n.d.). Univerzita Karlova. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
5 Joburg. (n.d.). About the city. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
6 UNESCO. (n.d.). Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa. World Heritage Convention. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
7 U.S. News. (2023). Free University of Berlin. Retrieved July 20, 2023.
Approved by the dean of the Honors College on July 20, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.