Thinking about studying abroad? Many people believe it’s one of the best things you can do during your college education. Experiencing different cultures, foods, perspectives, and landscapes can have a lasting impact on the rest of your life.
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We talked to students who are currently studying abroad in cities all over the world to see what they think makes THEIR city the perfect place for a study-abroad experience.
Check out what they had to say (plus make note of some insider tips for spots you can’t miss should you ever find yourself in the cities on our list). Enjoy, and remember:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
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Food, architecture, culture, sports: Barcelona is a force when it comes to all aspects of the abroad experience. Home to FC Barca — one of the top football clubs in the world — and you’ll become a fan whether you intended to or not.
Barcelona was the longtime residence of Antoni Gaudí (one of the great artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries) — and the city’s buildings have a funky flair that you won’t find anywhere else. Throw in endless tapas and sangria and you have one of the most amazing places on earth. It’s Cheetahlicious!!
- Hammock Juice Station: The cutest of small eateries. The cafe has the best outdoorsy vibes and great food options to start your day. You can choose to sit in hammocks or on bike seats, whichever floats your boat, while you enjoy dishes that perfectly mimic the ambiance.
- Hike to Bunker del Carmel: This is one of the best views in the entire city. The bunkers were built in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War to defend the city, but soon thereafter, the guns and cannons were abandoned and so only the bunkers remain today.
- The Doping Club: A pizza restaurant that feels like you’re in an antique library. But make your way to the back and you’ll find that the bookshelf façade conceals a lavish and exotically decorated speakeasy. Minor detail: You do have to be a member of the club for this exclusive experience, but all it takes is filling out a quick application on the restaurant’s website at no additional cost.
- Bonus: Brunch and Cake. This must-try brunch spot has the best frozen lattes, egg dishes served on a shovel, black waffles and, obviously, cake. It’s so perfect, it can even be overwhelming for the seasoned food Instagrammer:
Though it’s one of the smaller Aussie cities, what Brisbane lacks in size it makes up for in personality. Studying in Brisbane gives you the perfect blend of busy city life, rural countryside, and tropical beaches. Need we say more? The city itself has an upbeat vibe, and you’ll never be bored with all the shopping, restaurant, and bar options. To top it all off, Brisbane boasts more tropical weather and milder winters than many other Australian cities. HUGE perk.
- Hike Mt. Cootha: The perfect sunrise excursion. You can also make a day out of your adventure to the highest point in Brisbane by visiting the nearby Brisbane Botanical Gardens or planetarium.
- Cowch Dessert Bar: The best dessert creations you could ever imagine, guaranteed. Besides mouthwatering dessert pizzas and cookie pancakes, this place has amazing cocktails and breakfasts, too.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: A quick, 20-minute bus ride from the city center. There are tons of koalas hanging around everywhere, and kangaroos chill in the fields. A very unique experience.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is bursting with color and alive with a mix of cultures. The unique vibes give it the feel of a Latin American city, but with tons of European influences such as Italian food and French architecture. As the biggest city in Argentina, it’s the perfect home base from which to embark on day trips and hiking excursions that will lead you to breathtaking views. This is the place to be for any Spanish scholar.
- Bosques de Palermo: Enormous parks that are the most picturesque in the city. Read: Instragrammable. They are packed with great restaurants, and are the best place to go for a quick jog or a lazy Saturday in the park.
- Chori: A cute little restaurant that only sells choripan (chorizo and bread), making it the ideal place to try out one of Argentina’s staple dishes.
- Old Tramway: Take the old tram through the Caballito Districts. It’s a quick trip that’ll show you one of the most historic barrios in Buenos Aires. Oh, and it’s 100 percent free.
Copenhagen might be the biggest hidden gem of the moment. The city is BEAUTIFUL. On the commute to class alone, you will walk past colorful buildings, canals full of adorable little boats, and charming old architecture. To make it even better, everyone bikes. It is an easy (and totally safe) way to navigate the beautiful cobblestone streets. Most of all, everyone here seems to enjoy the small things and live life one day at a time.
- Hope Café: Try their delicious vegan brunch, salads, and golden latte made with turmeric and honey. Mmm!
- Katz Café: Coffee is absurdly expensive in Copenhagen — at least $5 or $6 per latte. Katz is a life saver, with the cheapest latte we have found thus far. It’s also right near the DIS Campus, so it’s the perfect little study spot on a rainy/chilly day.
- Flying Tiger: Not really “hidden” — they’re everywhere, because Flying Tiger is originally from Cope. But this is the perfect place to go to for almost anything. From school supplies to Tupperware to exercise equipment, you’ll find it here. And for cheap, too.
Galway is a phenomenal place to study because of the city’s charm, culture, and energy. Walking down the cobblestone streets in town, you pass musicians strumming their guitars, singing anything from Irish folk music to Justin Bieber covers. The streets are lined with colorful shops and delicious cafes, filled with people who love Ireland. Make your way to the waterfront on a sunny day and you’ll find masses of people sitting on the green, overlooking the colorful houses and crashing waves. It’s a beautiful real-life postcard you’ll never forget.
- Coffeewerk + Press: This coffee shop, set on the Main Street in town, doubles as an art gallery. It is a wonderful study spot for students and there are often street performers singing outside on a nice day.
- The Chili Shack: This is a hole in the wall burger/wing/chili restaurant with a killer atmosphere and affordable prices. It also happens to be delicious.
- The Front Door Pub: One of the best bars/pubs in the city because it attracts people from all over. There is often live music, and everyone there is always having a good time. The perfect place to enjoy a Guinness!
Overall, Madrid offers everything you could want in a study-abroad destination — the perfect mix of a manageable city, authentic Spanish culture, incredible food, tourism, and nature. Each neighborhood has its own unique personality, which makes exploring the little shops and cafes that much better. There are mountains just over an hour away for the nature lovers, too. So if you aren’t 100 percent keen on city life, it is easy to escape the hustle and bustle for a while in places like Retiro Park.
- The Hat: This is a good spot to have in your back pocket. First and foremost, it’s a hostel, so it is a great place to have friends stay when they come to visit. More importantly, it has a rooftop bar with inexpensive drinks, cheap tapas, and an awesome view of the city.
- Parque Oeste: One of Madrid’s many beautiful parks, Parque Oeste is home to the Temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple donated to Spain from the Egyptian state in 1968. Moreover, the temple is surrounded by a reflection pool, so it is an incredible spot to go for the sunset.
- Jia Xiang Xiao Chi: This place is a true treasure. It’s a Chinese restaurant located underneath Plaza de España. There’s somewhat limited seating space, but you can also order takeout if that suits your fancy!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, a historic city that was left nearly untouched by the bombings of World War II, will absolutely capture your heart forever. Known as the City of a Hundred Spires, the eclectic architecture is stunning, but that only scratches the surface of what makes Prague so extraordinary. With many quality parks, Prague is the perfect city for day-to-day exploration. Make sure you get up early at least one morning and head to the Vltava River to see the elegant white swans floating peacefully.
- Letna Park & Beer Garden: Trek toward the city’s Stalin monument and you’ll find a somewhat hidden bar and stage set up for live performances. Grab a spot on the wall during the day or stay to see the sun set over the most amazing view of the city.
- Burrito Loco: A true gem if there ever was one. This is your go-to place for quick, easy, cheap, and delicious Mexican food at any hour. Keywords: At any hour.
- Bakeshop: This one isn’t quite so hidden because it is arguably the best bakery in Prague, but it is a destination you can’t skip. Try to find a bigger meringue anywhere (hint: you won’t).
Living in Sydney, a bustling city surrounded by gorgeous beaches, will quickly show you that the city far surpasses any expectations you might’ve had. The weather never drops below sweater weather — so ideal — and the people are so friendly. Incredible beaches, such as Bondi, Coogee, and Manly, are filled with surfers and street art. The best thing you can do to get an authentic taste of Sydney is explore some of the city’s festivals, like the Kite Festival at Bondi Beach.
- Graffiti of Redfern: This legal graffiti space presents the perfect Instagram opportunity. Make sure to check out the masterpieces that are giving graffiti artists recognition around the world.
- Movie Nights at Luna Park: This isn’t just any old movie night in the park, although that alone would be pretty dope. Luna Park actually features a rooftop cinema where it holds frequent movie nights — a definite must.
- Henry Lee’s: This concept cafe/kitchen and collaborative space is home to the most delicious brunch in all of Sydney. Tip: eat here often.
Vienna is not only one of the most beautiful places to study abroad, it’s also a pleasant city that will make your transition into abroad life so easy. Viennese people love their leisure time and they love the outdoors — hence all the fairyland-esque parks and destinations along the Danube to enjoy. It’s common to sit outside, soaking up some rays and enjoying a coffee for hours on end!
- Tel Aviv Beach: The best beach on the Danube. Make sure to check out Neni, a family-owned Jewish restaurant that serves authentic Israeli cuisine.
- Alte Donau: A breathtaking branch of the Danube that is the perfect place to spend your weekends. In the summer, it’s amazing for boating, jogging, cycling, and swimming, but in the winter it transitions into an enormous skating rink with the city skyline as a picturesque backdrop.
- Museums Quartier: An entire district of the city devoted solely to museums. There are also a ton of hip bars to explore and the nightlife scene is generally absent of tourists.
The world is your oyster. Go see everything. And wherever you go, don’t forget to send us pics!