With cuisine from nearly every country available on Seamless, cultural festivals with everything from the dragons of Chinese New Year to the blaring bagpipes of St. Patrick’s Day and museums with artifacts from all over the world, New York City seems to have it all. But there is so much more beyond the scaffolding and famous skyline.
While studying away in Shanghai, I sang Beyoncé songs at a street food stand with strangers. Taxi drivers told me how nervous their kids were about college. A woman at a temple I visited whispered to me in Mandarin that she cried when Whitney Houston died. Studying abroad is not about having an interesting hook to your Linkedin profile or being a part of a global network — it’s about meeting new people and realizing we all have more in common than we think.
Studying abroad puts you outside your comfort zone, which is not necessarily something to be scared of. Embrace the fact that you are going to make mistakes. Language barriers are frustrating but easily laughed off with a little bit of patience — I once accidentally asked a waiter for a pair of pants instead of chopsticks and a cup of handsome instead of a cup of water.
No matter where you go, from Accra, Ghana to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I hope this study away guide will help you narrow down your options for studying away to choose the best experience possible. Each site’s page shows a glimpse into the food, nightlife or culture, with helpful tips from students who have already studied or are currently studying at that site.
Tell your family and friends your study away stories — teach them there is more to other countries than just political disagreements or economic dependencies. Remember the conversations you have with locals, the foods you try and of course, the friends you make. Leaving your routine behind can be daunting, but abroad you will find a second home where you least expect it.