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The 14 best places to study abroad around the world

So you’re ready to immerse yourself in a new culture, broaden your horizons, and study abroad. The next decision is which location to choose: do you crave the excitement of a big city? Or do you prefer a slower pace of life? Whether seeking a vibrant megacity or a sun-drenched subtropical island, this diverse list of the 14 best places to study abroad—in seven carefully chosen nations from all corners of the globe—has got you covered.


Best places to study abroad in France

France is the world’s most popular tourist destination with 89 million visitors yearly—that’s 9 million more than the United States! And of course, France’s charm is obvious. It has a varied range of picturesque villages, seductive cities, coastline beaches, and Alpine mountains. Combined with an esteemed education system and reasonable tuition fees, it’s easily one of the best places to study abroad.

The big location: Paris

Paris earns its reputation as the City of Love, symbolized by its most popular proposal destination: the Eiffel Tower. But the French capital is as inspiring as it is romantic, thanks to an abundance of culturally-rich museums, monuments, restaurants, cafes, and parks. With 12 world-ranked universities, Paris is an attractive, nourishing environment for students—picture studying at the historic Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, for one example. As an added bonus, according to QS, the cost of living in the city is decreasing year-on-year.

  • Population: 2.1 million.
  • Average international tuition fee: €2,770 per year for Bachelor’s programmes, €3,770 for Master’s programmes
  • Top universities: PSL, ParisTech, Sorbonne University

The smaller alternative: Montpellier

Despite its modest size in comparison to Paris, Marseille, and Lyon, Montpellier is a hugely popular destination for studying abroad. In fact, L'Etudiant magazine ranked it the third best city for students. Quality of life is cited as a standout reason; located in southern France, citizens enjoy a Mediterrean climate and close links to the seaside. Are you seeking an authentic experience and immersion with locals? If so, Montpellier is ideal, as it’s relatively untouched by tourism. You’ll be content if you’d prefer to stay within academic circles, too—students make a third of the city’s inhabitants.

  • Population: 277,639.
  • Average international tuition fee: €2,770 per year for Bachelor’s programmes, €3,770 for Master’s programmes
  • Top universities: Université de Montpellier, Université Paul-Valéry

Best places to study abroad in South Korea

The East Asian nation is emerging as a top destination for students and has become one of the best places to study abroad. Since separating from North Korea in 1948, South Korea has invested heavily in education and research, and boasts a number of top universities. Whether exploring the high-tech hustle of megacities or channeling your inner zen at ancient Buddhist temples, South Korea suits all tastes. Due to South Korea’s size and impressive high-speed train infrastructure, wherever you are based, all areas of the country are accessible.

The big location: Seoul

South Korea’s capital has the accolade of ranking as the 10th best student city in the world by QS World University Rankings. Seoul is the perfect combination of old and new, where ancient Korean culture meets advanced technology. Be amazed by modern skyscrapers or gaze in awe at historical sights like Gyeongbokgung Palace (built in 1395). Seoul is likened to an affordable New York City, making it ideal for money-conscious students seeking excitement. And karaoke. Lots of karaoke.

  • Population: 9.7 million.
  • Average international tuition fee: €6,000
  • Top universities: Seoul National University, Korea University

The smaller alternative: Daejeon

The “Silicon Valley of South Korea” is one of the best places to study abroad for science and technology students. It’s home to KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) and boasts 200 research institutes and headquarters for big-name companies, such as Samsung and LG. When free from studying, escape to stunning idyllic mountain forests on the outskirts of the city, or take a 50-minute train-ride to Seoul. However, due to Daejeon’s stunning nature, delicious food, cosy cafes, and warmhearted locals, don’t be surprised if you don’t want to leave.

  • Population: 1.5 million.
  • Average international tuition fee: €14,500
  • Top universities: KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), Chungnam National University

Best places to study abroad in Italy

Italy is one of the best places to study abroad in Europe with world-leading universities. And as a country with a record number of sites listed on the World Heritage List, it is a top location for history-enthusiasts and avid art buffs. With its charming villages, deserted islands, monumental cities, cuisine developed across centuries, and world-famous wines, students are spoiled for choice.

The big location: Rome

Rome is a living, breathing museum. The Italian capital goes to great lengths to preserve its past; so much so, walking the streets—peppered with monuments like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum—is a walk back in time. Students of one of Rome’s 24 colleges or universities will be inspired by such a breathtaking backdrop. Socialize at coffee bars serving fine Italian coffee or revise for summer exams while bathing in the sunshine in Borghese park.

  • Population: 2.9 million.
  • Average international tuition fee: €1,600 per year
  • Top universities: Sapienza University of Rome; The Tor Vergata University of Rome; Roma Tre University

The smaller alternative: Florence

Founded by Julius Caesar in 29 AD, Florence matches Rome’s rich history, despite being a fraction of its size. All aspects of Florence are intimate and operate at a slow pace. Classes at universities are held in small groups rather than large lecture halls. Most of the Tuscan landscape is accessible by foot, too. And, top tip: if you’re looking for late-night snacks during exam season, “secret bakeries” open between 12am and 6am (if you can find them!)

  • Population: 382,258.
  • Average international tuition fee: €1,600 per year
  • Top universities: University of Florence

Best places to study abroad in Australia

Australia’s incredible landscape makes it a contender for the best places to study abroad. Visit attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef, national parks, koala sanctuaries, rainforests, or explore one of its 11,000 beaches. If quality of education is a priority, the “Land Down Under” is the third most popular destination for international students, and its university ranking is 9th in the world, ahead of Germany, New Zealand, and Japan. So, what’s not to like?

The big location: Sydney

It’s rare for a big-city location to balance the hustle and bustle with beach life. Surf before lectures, explore spectacular beaches, meet students from all over the world, and receive world class education… It’s no surprise that Sydney is one of the best places to study abroad. Thanks to 340 days of sun per year, adventures to the city’s attractions—from Sydney Opera House to Bondi Beach—are always accompanied by nice weather. You could even spend Christmas at the beach!

  • Population: 4.6 million
  • Average international tuition fee: €20,000 per year
  • Top universities: University of Sydney, University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)

The smaller alternative: Hobart

If you’d like the climate of Sydney but prefer smaller cities, Hobart is the perfect choice. In the capital of Tasmania, the island state of Australia, the pace of life is slower and the quality of life is high. However, Hobart is far from a ghost town. A growing number of creatives are drawn to the city’s art scene, particularly festivals such as Dark Mofo and Mona Foma. Best of all, it’s perfect for students on a budget—Expatistan report that Hobart is 20% cheaper to live than Sydney.

  • Population: 206,097
  • Average international tuition fee: €20,000 per year
  • Top universities: University of Tasmania

Best places to study abroad in the United States

Are you tempted to live the American dream? Whether intoxicated by Hollywood movies or mesmerized by New York’s high-rise buildings, the United States is an attractive destination for students. Its world-class education system is prestigious and campus life is unlike anywhere else in the world, making the U.S. one of the best places to study abroad. With 50 states and over 5,000 colleges, the U.S has the perfect location for all students. This is why choosing two locations isn’t easy...

The big location: New York

Every year over 75,000 international students studying in New York. With an unparalleled art scene, sights such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square, 23,000 restaurants covering 60 cuisines, world-class live music and a vibrant night-life, time away from study won’t be boring. Away from the dazzling lights of New York City, locations for students within the state vary from college towns (Ithaca and Albany) to cities (Buffalo and Binghamton).

  • Population: 8.6 million.
  • Average international tuition fee: €16,980 per year
  • Top universities: New York University, Columbia University, Cornell University

The smaller alternative: Montana

Montana is an unconventional destination worth considering for outdoor lovers. The home to the Rocky Mountains is one of the least densely populated states in the U.S., with vast landscapes and plenty of time for solitude. In particular, Bozeman—a small college town where a third of the population are students—is rich in outdoor activities when taking a break from study, from skiing, rock climbing, and mountain biking. Be aware that temperatures drop far below zero in winter, though!

  • Population: 1.1 million (46,596 in Bozeman)
  • Average international tuition fee: €25,850 per year
  • Top universities: University of Montana, Montana State University

Best places to study abroad in Brazil

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, covering almost half of South America. Its coastline alone covers over 4,500 miles. Thanks to a vibrant and colorful lifestyle, beautiful climate, impassioned, diverse culture, and the opportunity to learn Portugese, Brazil is one of the best places to study abroad. Plus, its universities are climbing significantly in the QS Rankings year-on-year, and there are increasing incentives to attract international students—such as Brazil Exchange Bureau—as the government strives to boost the country’s academic reputation.

The big location: São Paulo

São Paulo edges Rio de Janerio for two reasons: it is home to the country’s highest ranked university, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), and its crime rates are significantly lower. According to the Financial Times, South America’s largest city has seen a “breathtaking drop” in violent crime thanks to investment in public security. Safety reasons aside, the intensity and buzz of studying and living here makes this one of the best places to study abroad—especially for extroverts looking to party between lectures.

  • Population: 12.2 million
  • Average international tuition fee: public universities are free.
  • Top universities: Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp)

The smaller alternative: Florianópolis

Florianópolis has one of the lowest crime rates in Brazil, making it one of the best places to study abroad for students concerned about safety. “Floripa,” as known by locals, is one of the fastest-growing cities in South America. Looking for fun? The New York Times named the city the “Party Destination of the Year” in 2009, and it’s the best place to live in Brazil, according to Veja magazine. If endless entertainment isn’t your scene, the subtropical island is abundant with beaches, fishing villages, lakes, and rainforests.

  • Population: 477,798
  • Average international tuition fee: public universities are free.
  • Top universities: Federal University of Santa Catarina, State University of Santa Catarina

Best places to study abroad in Spain

A coastline stretching 5,000 miles and offering 300 days of sunshine per year make Spain a top choice for sun-loving students studying within Europe. The country mixes vibrant cosmopolitan cities with historically-rich towns, offering options for all students. And when it comes to studying, Spain happens to be the third most-popular student destination in the world.

The big location: Barcelona

After London and Paris, Barcelona is the third most visited destination in Europe. An added incentive for students is the perfect combination of city living with the ease of Spanish culture; you’re just as likely to indulge in the vibrant nightlife and regular fiestas (parties) as you are to recharge with relaxed coffee-drinking and afternoon siestas (afternoon naps). And if you need any more convincing reasons to study in the Catalonian capital, know that the cost of living is surprisingly cheap compared to major European cities, with plenty of choice for student housing.

  • Population: 1.6 million.
  • Average international tuition fee: €2,900 per year
  • Top universities: University of Barcelona, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

The smaller alternative: Salamanca

Expect to get lost in the magnificence of Salamanca’s city streets. Its mixture of cafes, bars, and stunning architecture makes strolls between lectures a feast for the senses. Rich in history, the entire city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the University of Salamanca—founded in 1218— is the oldest university in Europe. It’s easy to see why this hidden gem was named European Capital of Culture in 2002.

  • Population: 144,692.
  • Average international tuition fee: €910 per year
  • Top universities: Universidad de Salamanca, Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca

Your money at N26

Take the stress out of studying abroad by making sure that you’re in full control of your finances, wherever you are. The free N26 bank account is a perfect companion for international students, with free ATM withdrawals in euros, free payments in any currency around the world, and no hidden foreign transaction fees. Plus, the free N26 app automatically categorizes spending, so you’re able to keep track of your budget to suit the financial demands of your new home.

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