So, you’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to study abroad. And now you’ve reached the fun part – deciding where to study. There are so many amazing options, the decision seems almost impossible. The good news is that there’s no right or wrong answer. The world is your oyster! But to make the choice a little easier, I’ve found you 5 of the best cities to spend your year abroad in.
This city truly gives you an experience like no other. In a single day, you can go from exploring the shopping malls and restaurants of the sleek and modern Sukhumvit district to admiring the temples and architecture in the Ko Rattanakosin district. The amalgamation of different cultures and lifestyles is what makes Bangkok, and you can’t truly know the city until you experience them all. Fortunately, all the exploring that you have to do won’t break the bank. The cost of living in Thailand is more than reasonable. A bus journey will set you back just 10 baht (around 25p), and the cost of a traditional Pad Thai dish is usually no more than 50 baht (around £1.25). This gives you more money to spend on your time off, which you can use to explore the beautiful country. From the white sandy beaches to the fascinating wildlife, there’s so much for you to discover.
There’s so much to do and see in this huge and diverse city, it’s hard to know where to start. Much like Bangkok, Toronto is full of different cultures. In fact, it’s been declared the most diverse city in the world, with over half of the residents being born outside of Canada. This makes it so easy to fit in here, and you’ll feel at home in no time. Within a matter of weeks, you’ll be complaining about the weather and cheering on the Leafs like a true Torontonian. Since the city’s culture is so rich, there are some fascinating museums to visit. If you have a creative streak, check out the Art Gallery of Ontario to view their collection of over 90’000 pieces of artwork. Or visit the Hockey Hall of Fame to get clued up on the nation’s favourite sport. And of course, you can’t discuss the highlights of the city without talking about the food. The Toronto food scene brings you the best international delicacies, as well as local staples such as poutine and butter tarts.
Audrey Hepburn put it perfectly when she said “Paris is always a good idea.” The city is full of culture, elegance and class. The clothes, the wine, the food – everything in this city must be made with the highest quality products. Life in Paris is all about valuing quality over quantity. The price of the clothes that Parisians buy would make your eyes pop out of your sockets. But the items are timeless, and they’re built to last. The coffee you drink won’t come in the big mug that you’re used to, but each drop will make your taste buds come to life. Nothing is done by halves here. Despite the Parisians striving for perfection, you can still have a surprisingly laid back experience. Take the time to wander down picturesque side streets. Sit at the corner table of the closest cafe, get yourself a croissant and watch the world go by.
Living in San Francisco isn’t just a great study abroad opportunity – it’s great for the body too. If you choose to live in this health-conscious city, you’ll be surrounded by spas, hiking groups and wellness centres. Even walking from A to B is enough to keep you fit here, as tackling these vertical streets can be a real challenge. So be sure to bring a pair of walking boots and a strong antiperspirant with you! But the stunning views of this compact city makes tackling the hills so worth it. For an extra special view, go to the Golden Gate Overlook to see the bridge in all of its glory. And the atmosphere in this city is second to none. Since becoming a haunt for hippies in the 60’s, the area has had a more laid back vibe than other big US cities. Although the emergence of Silicon Valley has led life to move at a faster pace than it once did, San Francisco still has that laid-back, hippie vibe at heart. Whilst it’s true that living here will cost you a pretty penny, the experience you get in return will more than make up for it.
Last, but by no means least, is Amsterdam. This is a place I hold dearly in my heart, as do most people who have been fortunate enough to visit. The city has a rich and fascinating history that it doesn’t shy away from. Museums across the city detail its’ history of sex and drugs in a sensitive and informative manner. And of course, the numerous art museums are a must-visit. The Van Gogh Museum is a particular highlight – even those of you who aren’t art lovers are bound to recognise a couple of pieces on display here. Getting around the city is easy. The trams, the metros, and the copious amount of bike lanes make it easy to go about your day to day life. It’s a small city, so it should never take you too long to get from A to B. But just because it’s a small city, don’t expect it to be quiet. The tourist spots get crowded, especially on weekends. And there’s always something going on here, so you won’t get the chance to get bored. The only struggle you’ll have here is trying to do your work without getting tempted to get out and explore.
Hopefully, this list has given you some inspiration for your study abroad destination. Whichever city you choose, I’m sure that you’ll have a life-changing experience. If you want to learn more about studying abroad and hear about other students’ experiences, check out The Study Abroad Blog.