Unusual Study Abroad Options for Intrepid Travelers

Senior Writer at findingDulcinea

While classic European destinations like Paris, London and Florence remain popular among students studying abroad, there is a growing interest in locations outside of Western Europe and outside of Europe in general. In 2005, Vistawide, an organization for language teachers and learners, reported on the Top Ten Destinations for U.S. Students Studying Abroad. Six were in Europe—the U.K. was number one, while Costa Rica, an up-and-comer, came in at number ten.

Three years later, the blog Cleveland.com reported that several countries, including China and Ecuador, have seen a significant increase in study abroad enrollment over the past few years. With that in mind, here are some options for students seeking an unusual locale to call home for a while:

Bratislava, SlovakiaBratislava's winding cobbletone streets rival Prague's.

Bratislava's cobblestone streets rival Prague's.

Bratislava's cobblestone streets rival Prague's.

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is reminiscent of Prague and Vienna, featuring a vibrant café culture, bustling city center and relaxed attitude that has been referred to as Mediterranean-like. Slovakia is one of Central Europe’s newest EU states, established after a ‘velvet divorce’ from the Czech Republic in the early 1990s. Small, but rapidly growing, Bratislava is also called Pressburg and was the Hungarian capital from 1536 until 1848, according to Roanoke College, which has a study abroad program at Comenius University in the city of 300,000 residents. Students in Bratislava will see Gothic architecture and historic palaces, and have access to ethnic neighborhoods and the city castle, but won’t have to contend with the hoards of tourists found in other European capitals.

Furthermore, Bratislava is a great European hub, offering easy and inexpensive access to various other cities, such as Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic, and the Hungarian cities of Budapest and Balaton, according to EuroCheapo. Study abroad students will find great deals on airfare from Sky Europe, which has routes to Dublin and Malaga, for example.

Quito, Ecuador:

Streets of Quito

Virgin of El Panecillo looks over Quito

South America is still a bit under the study abroad radar, but places like Buenos Aires, Argentina, are quickly picking up speed. One city that retains a quiet atmosphere, but still offers students diverse cultural and environmental features is Quito, Ecuador. This capital city sits in the shadow of the Andes mountains and features stunning Spanish colonial architecture, according to the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership. IPSL has programs in Quito combining volunteer service and study, which enhances students’ experience of local culture, and can help with Spanish language learning.

And for adventurous types, Quito is not too far from the Amazon rainforest, gorgeous Pacific beaches, active volcanoes and the equator, according to Jaunted. Even if you don’t trek to the Amazon, there’s opportunity to swing from the trees in nearby Mindo, where Canopy Adventure has an hour-long zipline program.

Specialized programs

Lastly, for an unorthodox study abroad experience, consider a specialized program similar to those offered by Antioch University. Examples of Antioch programs include studying Brazilian Ecosystems in the Amazon, or Buddhist studies in India and Japan. The programs offer field research and challenging cultural and language immersion, encouraging students to become active participants in global society far beyond college graduation.

2 Responses to “Unusual Study Abroad Options for Intrepid Travelers”


  1. 1 Liz April 8, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I studied abroad in Quito and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Ecuador has not only a diverse range of ecological features, but it also has a wonderful culture and great night life! Though I went to Ecuador to study biology (in the Amazon and the Galapagos), I met other students there studying Spanish and South American culture and policy. I was able to learn a great deal about the culture of Ecuador as I stayed in a homestay. I fell in love with the country when I was there and I will always call it a home away from home. I highly recommend anyone thinking of studying abroad to consider Ecuador.

  2. 2 Liz April 8, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Not to mention the fact that Quito is surrounded by mountains, providing some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced at a university.


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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!

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