Top 5 Destinations to Study Abroad

One of the biggest decisions a college student will make when choosing to study abroad is picking the right destination. Your school may provide a list of options based on your major, but there is a lot to consider when making your final selection. You’ll want to pick a place that intrigues you, will provide personal enrichment, and offer you the best overall experience. There might also be financial considerations to keep in mind, as a semester abroad can certainly be more costly than a semester at home.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve put together a list of some of the top international destinations that offer stellar study abroad experiences for college students from the United States, while also keeping cost in mind.

Costa Rica

What makes it great: Looking for a study abroad program that isn’t too far from home? Costa Rica might be your answer. It also has a highly related education system, so you can ensure you’re learning from some truly talented professors. This is a particularly popular choice for students majoring in science and environmental programs due to Costa Rica’s lush and tropical environment.

Cities to visit: San Jose is Costa Rica’s main city and likely where you’ll be flying in and out of. It’s certainly worth a visit for many students, where they are based during their studies. While in Costa Rica, don’t miss the Corcovado National Park, which has some of the most stunning beaches in the country. Arenal Volcano can’t be missed for jungle trekking, white water rafting, and other adventures. Looking for the perfect blend of rainforests and beaches? You’ll love Manuel Antonio National Park, located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.

Financial aspects to consider: Not only is cost of living inexpensive in Costa Rica, but direct and inexpensive flights from the United States are often plentiful.


What makes it great: What’s not to love about Italy? From its delightful cuisine to fascinating history, there is truly something for everyone in Italy, no matter what time of year you decide to study abroad.

Cities to visit: Southern Italy, including the cities along the Amalfi Coast, offer some of the best European beach experiences in the summer. Another incredible area to visit in the summer is Cinque Terre. Be sure to also add Milan, Rome, Venice, Bologna, and Genoa to your itinerary, just to name a few.

Financial aspects to consider: Some of Italy’s bigger cities and top tourist towns can certainly be on the costlier side, such as Positano, Venice, and Milan. You may want to avoid study abroad programs that are based out of these areas, as your daily expenses may quickly add up. However, they make for easy day trips from just about anywhere in Italy and are also easy (and sometimes inexpensive) gateways to and from the United States. When choosing a study abroad program based in Italy, look for smaller Italian towns—like neighborhoods located throughout the Tuscan countryside—which can offer budget-friendly study abroad programs for students.


What makes it great: Students who are majoring in historical studies or are looking to fulfill history credits that are required for their degree often choose Poland for their study abroad program. It’s also a popular choice for students studying business and economics.

Cities to visit: Many of Poland’s top universities are in Warsaw and Krakow, so it’s likely you’ll be based in one of those two cities if you study abroad in Poland. Zakopane, Tricity, and Sopot are also just some of the many wonderful cities you’ll want to visit throughout your travels in Poland.

Financial aspects to consider: Studying abroad in Europe can be expensive, but many countries throughout Eastern Europe can offer an equally enriching (or arguably better) experience and for a fraction of the cost. You can likely maximize on those savings by skipping the summer semester abroad and instead selecting a shorter semester during the winter, fall, or spring. Costs are not only lower but there are also fewer crowds.


What makes it great: If you’re hoping to choose a country in Asia for your study abroad program, know that Thailand is a beloved favorite of many student travelers. The diverse experience you get from just this one country alone makes for an incredible and unforgettable travel and study abroad experience.

Cities to visit: Some of the best beaches in the world can be found in Phuket, which is also a gateway for some of the most beautiful islands in the world, such as the Phi Phi Islands and Koh Samui. For jungle expeditions and adventure, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Chang Mai. And if you prefer the city life, Bangkok can be the perfect place to live during your program abroad.

Financial aspects to consider: Thailand is much more affordable compared to other countries throughout Asia. In fact, the cost of living in Thailand can be substantially lower than back at home in the United States, so you may find that your budget isn’t affected as much as you thought it would be.


What makes it great: Portugal is known for its sun-filled forecasts, especially in the summer, and great beaches. In addition, Portugal has a rich history, providing additional opportunities to expand your knowledge while abroad.

Cities to visit: Lisbon is the country’s capital and offers an exciting and culturally place to spend your semester abroad. While in Portugal, be sure to visit the beautiful beaches in historic Aveiro, the ancient ruins of Sintra, and the stunning coastal town of Algarve.

Financial aspects to consider: The majority of Western European countries aren’t usually deemed as budget-friendly, but Portugal is one of the exceptions. It can be a cheaper alternative to Spain without sacrificing the experience you’re looking for.

Once you’ve decided where you want to study for that semester abroad, it’s important to get the financial aspects taken care of. If you are eligible for financial aid, you may be able to receive some or all of the money you need to take care of your expenses overseas. But if you don’t qualify, or you’re only offered an amount that will partially fund your expenses, you’ll want to explore your other options as soon as possible. One option is taking out a customized loan through College Ave Student Loans. Contact us today to learn more about the different loan products we offer and how we can help you pay for your international studies.


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