“We’re baaaaaaaaaaaack.” Go Overseas and I are back once again to bring you the Manliest Cities for Study Abroad: Round 2!
As I mentioned before, in The 5 Manliest Cities for Study Abroad, I normally try to be inclusive with these articles, using a light hand to dispense information useful to both sexes, and to always maintain a professional level of decorum. But this is not one of those articles.
This is more of what we brought you before. This is study abroad for the sport lovers, soccer fans, and beer aficionados. This is study abroad for the man who never knew there was an international version of his favorite things in life. This is the Manliest Cities for Study Abroad: Round 2.
So grab your Sperrys and your beer snorkels and let’s bro out! A crop of five new cities will be compared in the categories of Sports, Art, and the Bar Scene. The modern dude is a renaissance dude, after all. So with the help of our friend and Bro Spirit Guide Ernest Hemingway, let’s take another trip around the world and see what your study abroad will offer you... outside of the classroom.
1. Dublin, Ireland
SPORTS Oi! The sporting faithful of Ireland's capital city are often unfairly portrayed in the media as being guilty of random hooliganism. How wrong, how petty, and how remote an assessment! I see an unabashed passion for sports, one by which the good earth has not been graced since the days of wing-walking biplane pilots and mustachioed men boxing kangaroos.
But really, Dublin has all the requisite professional sporting credentials. The most popular spectator sports in the city are, believe it or not, Gaelic Football and Hurling. But the heart of the Dublin sports scene is the youth, and that makes it a great place to live if you value exercise and recreational sporting. Pickup games of rugby and soccer are easy to find, especially around the universities. Sometimes a man has to decide if he is going to sit by and idly watch teams of demi-god millionaires play sports in billion dollar stadiums, or if he is going to pull up his socks, tighten his cleats, and go play himself. Good on ya, Dublin. RATING:
The heart of the Dublin sports scene is the youth... pickup games of rugby and soccer are easy to find, especially around the universities.
BAR SCENE The first book of the Beer Bible is called Guinness-is. This frothy stout, wrought from the iron of Celtic hammers and the sweat of no less than fourteen patron saints, is Ireland's cultural envoy to the rest of the world. It says that pleasure, earned and not given, rich and dark and often dubious, is, like hard work, its own reward.
The Guinness factory tour, also the birthplace of Harp lager and Smithwicks ale, is worth the price of admission. Learn the history of one of Ireland's oldest businesses, and of course, sample many of the proprietary wares.
Pub culture is a signature of Dublin. As with any world-class city, modern night clubs and intimate concert venues are open and only too happy to charge you fifteen euros for a drink. Eschew these trappings of vanity and find yourself a pub! Relaxed, with kitchens open late into the night, pubs are the sanctuary of the sudsy dude abroad. RATING:
ART Knock knock. Who's there? James Joyce. Oh, well let me open the door as fast as I can because you're James freaking Joyce and you're one of the greatest writers of all time. Joyce, famously a Dubliner, chose his city as the setting for his masterpiece "Ulysses." Many of the most towering authors and poets of the twentieth century hailed from Dublin, and their old workshops, homes, haunts and harems can be explored with the reverence of a literary pilgrim.
Dublin also has a brimming music scene. With the worldwide success of bands like U2, the Dropkick Murphys, and the Cranberries, Dublin is the place for the most promising and talented music acts to congregate and shower the city with their benevolent grooves. Check out clubs like Whelan’s, the Olympia, and Crawdaddy’s to catch the next big thing when they were still wee lasses and laddies. RATING:
Total on a scale of 1-BRO: 11 Hemingways
2. Cape Town, South Africa
SPORTS Sporting culture is huge in the capital of South Africa, but due to a relative lack of infrastructure across the rest of the country, professional sports teams are not very popular. However, South Africans love their national teams, and those teams usually play in Cape Town. The soccer team is competitive on the world stage, and the stadium is still in place from when South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010 (Remember the vuvuzelas? Of course you remember the vuvuzelas). The national rugby team, the Springboks, is also one of the elite teams in the world, and can always be counted on for a deep World Cup run.
Soccer is king, though. In a country with a turbulent past and economic difficulty, The Beautiful Game is the right prescription. After all, the only things you need to play soccer are a ball and a gap. Joe Slaven, world-traveler and Cape Town alumnus/aficionado, says : “The typical South African fashion is just to play wherever the ball drops. It's a place that loves its sports, and that’s made apparent by driving around and seeing bands of kids playing on side streets and dirt lots.” That’s old-school, bootstrap sporting. Very bro.
But don’t limit yourself to the traditional sports, though. All kinds of outdoor activities find their home in Cape Town. Joe says it best: “The City is dotted with random mountains that beg to be hiked, water sports are popular, skydiving surely happens, shark diving is a once-in-a-lifetime must, safari trips are pretty sweet, and the world's highest bridge bungee jump is a few hours drive. Just watch out for baboons.”
Uh, what was that last part? RATING:
The City is dotted with random mountains that beg to be hiked, water sports are popular, skydiving surely happens, shark diving is a once-in-a-lifetime must, safari trips are pretty sweet, and the world's highest bridge bungee jump is a few hours drive. Just watch out for baboons.
BAR SCENE The cultural capital of South Africa has nightclubs par excellence, and choices for every taste. As Joe explains, “The city has an incredibly diverse array of bars and clubs, each with a different vibe, different type of clientele, and different types of music. You like gangster rap and think you've found a proper way to dance to it? Then there's a club for you. And it just happens to be right next to the club playing pop music that you're ready to leave. And when you're done there, the place across the street is doing karaoke, right in between the club with house music and that one place your friends refer to as ‘the frat party.’" The carotid artery of this cornucopia of cacophonous cohorting is Long Street, which buzzes every night of the week.
Economy got you a little wallet-shy? Fear not, Joe goes on: “The best news about the nightlife is that, generally, it's incredibly cheap - when there is a cover charge to a Long Street club, it's never more than the equivalent of $3. And a beer is generally less than $3 as well.” RATING:
ART There's a schism in the Cape Town art culture. On the one hand, you have the old, dignified, classic artwork from the Afrikaner apartheid-era ruling class. The art is lovely, but it marks a dark time in South Africa's history, one that ought not to be forgotten, but moved past. For bros party with all, equally, and to deny somebody an invite due to color is cause for expulsion from The Frat.
On the other hand, you have young, black, talented artists, leading a revival in the Cape Town art scene. This new school of artists is fighting to shape the new identity of their city, and it is as exciting a place to be for an art major as it is a poli-sci major.
Joe would assert, though, that the art scene in Cape Town is more than just “black and white.” “One of the great things about Cape Town,” Joe says, “is that you can see its cosmopolitan history all around you - it's British, Dutch, Xhosa, Bantu, Indian, and Indonesian all at once. You can stroll through a neighborhood with graffiti, art galleries, and music that represents the more ‘African’ side, and then go through another neighborhood that looks like it was taken out of Indonesia, and then another that looks English. One thing that's unique to Cape Town relative to the rest of the country is the large population who are mixed-race. And everything about the city - including its architecture, musicians, and artists - represents that complex history perfectly.”
Well said, Joe. Are you rushing in the Fall? RATING:
Total on a scale of 1-BRO: 10 Hemingways
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
SPORTS Sports and Rio go together like soccer and Brazil! See? I literally cannot conceive of a better analogy. Do you want me to rattle off the city’s sporting credentials, because I can: there’s the Estadio do Maracana, where the stars of Brazil’s national team like Pele and Ronaldo cemented their country’s soccer superiority. There’s the dozens of professional Brazilian league soccer teams, several of which hail from Rio (just as Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham all play in London), and are as passionately followed by domestic fans as NFL teams are in America.
Then you add the cool local sports you can join in on – like the ever-popular basketball and the local game peteca (think badminton, but played with your hands and a much bigger shuttlecock) – and you’ve got a culture that’s sporting through and through. Plus, bonus points added for being able to play soccer and peteca on the beach. Beach sports are more bro than the radio of a pickup truck tuned to play “Free Bird.” And that’s a fact. RATING:
BAR SCENE Brazilians are some of the most joyful, dancing-est, celebrating-est people in the whole world, so you know they know how to party. Dance clubs and bars are too plentiful to mention, and run the whole gamut from posh downtown spots to tourist karaoke joints by the beach.
This is a city that, unlike some of its European counterparts, does not go to bed at 10PM. Some of my greatest adventures in Rio took place after midnight. The city is arguably the most gastro-friendly in the southern hemisphere, with lots of cool, risk-taking food stalls open late to feed the weary, wasted masses. The very energy of Rio itself is contagious, and many a bro will find his second wind on the wings of the words, “Come on, we’re in Rio!”
Also, Brazilian men and women are gorgeous. So, you know – bonus bro points there. RATING:
The art of Rio is in elaborate, brightly-colored graffiti painted when no one is looking.
ART The art in Rio is the art of life. Yes, there are stuffy galleries hanging the works of long-dead artists. But that isn’t the art at the heart of Rio. In a city where life is very good for very few and hard for very many, the human spirit finds its expression in the every day.
The art of Rio is in elaborate, brightly-colored graffiti painted when no one is looking. It’s the footwork of a little boy kicking a soccer ball that’s bigger than he is. It’s the juxtaposed dichotomy of the high rise hotels and the tar paper favelas. The art of Rio is the bitter sweetness of life, and that’s something Hemingway would dig. RATING:
Total on a Scale of 1-BRO: 12 Hemingways
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
SPORTS Vikings were the bros of the ancient seafaring world, and they understood that physical fitness was important to one’s goals. But instead of yoga positions like “Downward Dog” and “Sun Salutation,” they had moves like “Discover North America” and “Be Awesome.” Today, Copenhagen’s residents honor this tradition by keeping fit any way they can.
Unlike many European cities (following the continental bend towards brooding intellectualism and away from masculine barbarism), Copenhagen is home to lots of gyms, and as a result, lots of competition amongst gyms! This means your membership won’t cost nearly what it will in a city like Paris.
The city’s wide streets are also popular with running clubs, many of whom meet in the early morning and evening for group runs. As for spectator sports, handball is the most popular. Yes, handball. It’s like soccer, but you don’t use your feet. No, not like hockey, because there’s no ice. No, not like lacrosse either, because you carry the ball in your arms. No, not like football! You shoot the ball into a goal. NO, NOT LIKE BASKETBALL. HANDBALL IS NOT LIKE BASKETBALL, BECAUSE THE GOAL IS PERPENDICULAR TO THE FLOOR AND NOT PARALLEL. IT’S A BIG DIFFERENCE. See? Handball is simple stuff.
However, a man calls his sports what they are, so that’s points off. Sorry, Sideways Basketball. You’re not fooling anyone. RATING:
It’s not just that there are a lot of bars in Copenhagen – it’s that they stay open 'til 6am and they serve beer brewed right.
BAR SCENE You want to talk bars? Copenhagen has the most bars and restaurants per capita in the world. And it’s not just that there are a lot of bars in Copenhagen – it’s that they stay open 'til 6am, and they serve beer brewed right in the city. Yes! Science and objective empirical observation have shown that there is nothing sweeter in the whole world than a freshly brewed beer enjoyed in the city of its birth, and Copenhagen boasts nearly a dozen breweries, including the world-famous Carlsberg.
Copenhagen doesn’t have a ton of dancing night clubs or discotheques. Such is not the Scandinavian way. The ones that do exist are often members-only, and the only way to get in is to dress like a million bucks – or spend it! RATING:
ART The Danish have a word, “hygge,” that translates to a certain ineffable sociable, warm coziness. Think wool sweaters, hot chocolate, and yellow street lamps. This is the aesthetic that residents of Copenhagen aspire to, and it’s very bro. Don’t believe me? Picture someone sitting by a fire, reading “The Old Man and the Sea,” wearing a cable neck sweater and drinking cocoa with a shot of brandy in it. Is that person in your mind’s eye an old bro? Exactly.
Going in a different artistic direction (like so many bands), Copenhagen is also the “designer goods” capital of the world. Looking for hand-built wooden beds, artisanal home-kilned dinnerware, or a one-of-a-kind old-timey rocking horse? Copenhagen is your place. And while this strange insistence upon craftsmanship in the age of the Big Box Retailer is unusual, you’ve got to love a culture that still values whittling as a skill. Extra bro points. RATING:
Total on a scale of 1-BRO: 9 1/2 Hemingways
5. Moscow, Russia
SPORTS Okay, so I’m going to tip my hand here. As my bio states, I’m a hockey player. I don’t have the luxury of rooting for great teams all over the world like soccer fans do. But it just so happens that Moscow is home to the most storied hockey team not playing in the NHL: Dynamo Moscow. Like Barcelona, Dynamo Moscow is actually a member-funded multisport club that fields several professional teams. Unlike Barcelona, it is not the soccer team, but the hockey team, that Dynamo is known for. Producing alumni like three-time NHL MVP Alexander Ovechkin certainly doesn’t hurt.
Moscow also values the image of the “strong Russian man,” so strength training and weightlifting are popular in the capital. Winter sports like cross-country skiing and ice skating are also popular ways to burn off those vodka calories. RATING:
Moscow is undergoing a fascinating change – one that’s been ongoing for two decades now.
BAR SCENE Moscow has the most billionaires per capita of any city on Earth. Did you know that? Makes that Lean Pocket you had for lunch seem pretty crummy, huh? Well fear not, because if you want to sample the lifestyles of the rich and famous without their crappy tax brackets, go clubbing in Moscow. Million dollar Bugattis and chrome-covered Bentleys line the valeted streets. If this is the kind of night life you love, the best advice is to dress to impress and go looking in the Pushkinskaya district.
But fear not, Hemingbros. If you’d rather knock back shots of vodka and talk Tolstoy and Dostoyevksy with Russian locals, check out the Khamovniki district. This is where the “real Russians” go out on the town, and the atmosphere is warm and non-judgmental – if not the most family-friendly or proper.
Going out on the town for a night in Moscow has been called “disorienting,” “sweeping,” “exhilarating,” and “wildly unpredictable,” so pack some clean underwear and go write yourself a story. RATING:
ART Moscow is undergoing a fascinating change – one that’s been ongoing for two decades now. Soviet-era Russia was the world’s only other superpower in the last sixty years. As such, there is a great deal of pride among in the achievements of the Soviet Union among Russians, art included. Moscow subway stations often feature grand architecture and murals depicting Russia’s imperial and Soviet-era glories.
And if you include literature, Russia has just about every non-anglophone nation in the world beat. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin, Nabokov – there’s a reason they call them the Russian masters, and not the Russian they-were-pretty-okay-at-writing-stuff.
However, today is a new day, and people my age and younger do not remember the Soviet Union. They do not have the same fond memories their parents do. As a result, a young, angry, vibrant counterculture is springing up in Moscow, one that likes punk music and wicked tattoos. Moscow is now, suddenly, a great city to hear new music. Give that the appreciation it deserves, given that a large swath of the country is uninhabitable tundra wilderness. RATING:
Total on a scale of 1-BRO: 9 1/2 Hemingways
And the winner is....
And there you have it, my brethren. The champion of our second round of Manliest Cities to Study Abroad is Rio De Janeiro, bringing it home strong for the southern hemisphere and for the Americas.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading, gotten a laugh or two, and learned more than that. Here at Go Overseas, we believe an informed student is a better prepared student, and we encourage all men (and women) to browse our awesome Study Abroad listings. Consider all your options, both on the beaten path and off, and pick a study abroad that gets you excited.
And as Moses said to the Pharaoh, “Let my people bro.”
We apologize for anyone we may have offended with our bro references and Hemingway ratings. Our intention is just a little lighthearted fun.Photo credits: Rio, Dublin by night, Copenhagen University.