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Study Abroad 101: The Most Exotic and Unique Programs
Want to make your study abroad experience a real adventure? Try something different than Europe and Australia and head to one of these more exotic locations.
Studying abroad has become extremely common among American college students. The majority of students choose to spend a semester (usually during junior year) exploring places like Australia, Italy, England, or Spain. But if you’re a young adult with a sense of adventure who strives for unique experiences, Europe may seem too “mainstream,” and Australia, an English-speaking country, may seem like it’s not enough of a challenge. Want to go somewhere exotic and unusual? These programs below certainly fit the bill!
1. Havana, Cuba
Though it’s only 90 miles southeast of the United States, the communist country of Cuba has been largely off limits to Americans since the 1960s, due to governmental policies. Through Academic Programs International (API), American students can spend a semester in this mysterious and vibrant country and study in the nation’s capital and largest city at the University of Havana. While you’re there, go sport fishing, dance the sensual and rhythmic rumba, soak up some sun on the Playas del Este beaches, light up a Cuban cigar, and check out the bright, colorful graffiti murals that line the streets.
2. At Sea
Semester at Sea offers a perfect solution for those who want to study abroad and travel the world. Students will explore the world from one ship! Run by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, but open to students from all universities, Semester at Sea combines classroom instruction and field studies at different ports around the world. Take the Fall 2013 trip that includes visits to Europe, Africa, and South America, or the Spring 2014 journey that makes stops in Asia, or the Summer 2014 adventure that takes you to Scandinavia, among other incredible places.
Anyone interested in government, politics, or international development may want to study abroad in Rwanda. Known mostly for one of the most horrendous genocides in history, Rwanda is an African country that’s in the process of rebuilding. Study post-conflict reconciliation and peace-building by visiting memorials and museums and learning from international experts through School for International Training (SIT). Students who take part in this program live with a Rwandan family, and the program offers a two-week excursion to neighboring Uganda.
For those who dream of working as doctors, nurses, therapists, health teachers, or public health professionals, studying abroad in Thailand with the Council on International Educational Exchange may be the best fit. Visit hospital wards and volunteer with local non-governmental organizations to make a difference. The program directors make sure that you’ll see all aspects of the country—both urban centers, such as Bangkok, and rural areas. Maybe when you’re done saving the world, you can head to the monthly “full moon party” in Haad Rin at the south end of Koh Phangan Island—an all-night beach party filled with music that celebrates each full moon. These parties have been going on since 1985, and attract tens of thousands of revelers.
Still in the process of shedding its reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the world, Colombia has the beauty of the popular European countries—plus a little more grit. The International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) offers students a chance to study a variety of programs in Spanish at Icesi University in the Cauca Valley region, an environmentally diverse area that is close to both beaches and forests. When you’re not hitting the books, enjoy some salsa dancing, see historical landmarks in the capital city of Bogotá, visit Cartagena—an ancient walled city and fortress, and check out the nature reserve in Isla Gorgona that’s filled with wildlife such as monkeys, snakes, whales, and sea turtles.
Any study abroad programs you would recommend? Leave us a comment below.
While Eagle Creek is here to provide tips and insights on travel, we cannot accept any responsibility for any potential consequences arising from the use of this information. Always conduct your own research and use your best judgment.
Amanda Slavinsky is a freelance writer and serial expat currently traveling around Asia. She blogs about life abroad at http://www.farsicknessblog.com.