So you’ve decided which semester you want to go abroad, and it’s almost time to start applying. Now all that’s left is choosing a destination! If you’re having trouble narrowing down your study abroad options, it can be helpful to think about your major and which countries have the most to offer based on your academic interests. To get you started, here are the perfect study abroad destinations for some of the most common majors.
English and Literature: England
This one is a no-brainer for an English major – what better place to read Shakespeare than the Bard’s very own country?
Brittany, a senior at John Carroll University and an English literature major, studied abroad in London twice. “It was the perfect place to explore my major, as it has an extensive historical connection with many writers and was the home of many of my favorite authors,” she says.
Studying abroad in England goes beyond curling up with a good book, though! “I got to see Hamlet performed at the Globe, and I even frequented a pub where Charles Dickens used to write his works,” Brittany says.
Plus, the 2013 QS World University Rankings listed Oxford and Cambridge as the first and second best universities in the world for studying English literature, respectively. So whether you want to study the classics or write a masterpiece of your own, England is the perfect place to get those creative juices flowing!
Political Science: Switzerland
The Huffington Post named Switzerland (and Geneva, in particular) as one of its five best places to study abroad for political science majors, and with good reason. Not only does Switzerland have a unique political history, having maintained armed neutrality since the early 1800s, but it is also a leader in international relations and diplomacy, having long been dedicated to the establishment of peace around the world.
Though Switzerland is historically neutral, it is still a key player in international politics and home to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the second largest UN office in the world after the UN Headquarters in New York. As an added bonus, both Zürich and Geneva are both consistently ranked among the cities with the highest quality of life in the world, so you’re basically guaranteed to have an amazing study abroad experience. And if you’re at all interested in skiing, that’s a definite plus!
Classics: Greece and Italy
If Plato and Julius Caesar are more of your thing, you can’t go wrong with Greece or Italy when it comes to studying classics. If you want to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (not to mention get the chance to read tons of Latin inscriptions and engravings!), Rome is the perfect destination. If you would rather check out the Parthenon, walk the streets of Athens or take a dip in the Aegean Sea, Greece is ideal.
And then, of course, there are archaeological digs for collegiettes looking to get their hands dirty while abroad. Check out your school’s classics department website or talk to the department head about excavations and digs happening in Italy and Greece. Even if your school isn’t offering any trips, chances are your professor will be able to point you in the right direction. Decisions, decisions…
Anthropology is the study of human beings and their social structures from every different time period and standpoint. What better place to study the amazing range of human existence than Australia? With its incredibly varied landscape and climate and its unique culture, Australia is a fascinating place to explore a range of inhabitants, past and present.
Of course, no anthropologist’s trip to Australia would be complete without studying the Aboriginal people, who are thought to be the oldest surviving culture in the world. With such a unique original population to study and a physical environment that ranges from the Great Barrier Reef and rainforests to mountains and deserts, there’s plenty to explore in Australia, especially for the budding anthropologist.
Scandinavia is a leader in neuroscience, and schools like the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) offer programs in Copenhagen specifically for neuroscience majors! With access to expert professors and some of the best resources Europe has to offer, Denmark is a great choice for studying the sciences.
"I chose to study neuroscience in Denmark this summer because I'd had several friends who had previously attended the same program,” says Raleigh, a junior at Bowdoin College. “The course options sounded fascinating (I took a class called ‘The Neuroscience of Fear’), and Copenhagen seemed like the perfect place to gain an international perspective while acquiring knowledge that pertained to my major."
If you do decide to study at DIS, all your courses will be taught in English, so you can immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture without missing any important information during lectures (because mastering neurons and axons is tough enough without learning it in Danish!).
When you think studying abroad in Spain, you probably think Barcelona or Madrid. While those are both amazing cities with great study abroad offerings, some of the best programs are off the beaten path.
“I'm studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain, this spring with the [Council On International Educational Exchange (CIEE)] teaching development and liberal arts program,” says Carli, a junior at Colby College and an education major. “We take liberal arts and education classes, and we teach English to Spanish-speaking elementary school students.”
Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to do a homestay, living with a family instead of in a dorm, which is a valuable and incredibly rewarding experience. If you choose the CIEE program, you’ll be immersed in Spanish culture and be able to engage with local students and teach them English—and you’re bound to learn a thing or two, as well!
Environmental Studies: Costa Rica
If you’re interested in environmental studies, ecology or marine biology, you should head to Costa Rica. There are study abroad programs in Costa Rica with opportunities to focus on ecology or zoology, work with endangered species, zip-line through unique ecosystems and immerse yourself in the rich culture. Costa Rica was also recently named one of the safest countries in Latin America, so all you need to focus on is having the time of your life.
With the country’s impressive environmental sustainability policies, gorgeous coral reefs and lush rainforests, there’s a little bit of everything for the environmentally minded collegiette (not to mention cute surfer guys and beaches for days!).
Art History: France
While plenty of countries in Europe are suited to the study of art history and architecture, we think France is the ultimate destination. Not only was France home to artists like Monet and Renoir, but it’s also the location of architectural feats such as the Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, the Notre-Dame Cathedral and, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
If you decide to go to Paris (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to spend four months in the City of Light?), there are plenty of world-famous museums for you to check out. Head to the Musée d’Orsay to take in the massive collection of Impressionist art, mosey on over to the Musée Rodin to see some stunning sculptures and don’t forget to save plenty of time for wandering aimlessly around the Louvre and wondering how long it would take you to see everything. Between the artistic masterpieces, picnics along the Seine and far too many Eiffel Tower Instagrams, there are plenty of beautiful things in France to keep you busy for a semester (or even a year!) abroad. Bon voyage!
Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies: Sweden
If you are a women’s, gender or sexuality studies major, definitely consider Sweden as a study abroad destination. “My major is creative writing, but my minor is [women, gender, and sexuality], and Sweden was an amazing place to study,” says Katie, a senior at Johns Hopkins University. “It was amazing to see the differences between gender in the U.S. and Sweden.”
Schools and nurseries in Sweden have launched an initiative to end gender discrimination by encouraging the use of a gender-neutral pronoun rather than “he” or “she.” Sweden is also consistently ranked as one of the most gender-equal countries in the world, making it the perfect place to get a new perspective on your WGS major and to discuss complex issues surrounding such an of-the-moment topic.
Your time spent abroad will be one of the most memorable parts of your college experience, so make sure you end up in a place that is best suited to you and what you hope to get out of your semester abroad. Happy travels, collegiettes!