Study Abroad

10 Up & Coming Places to Study Abroad in 2021

Andrea Palmer
Topic Expert

Andrea Ella Palmer is a freelance writer from Baltimore, Maryland. She earned a Master of Public Health from University College Dublin in 2017. Over the past 5 years, Andrea has lived in Madrid, Dublin, and now calls Alicante, Spain home where she works as an EFL teacher in a primary school.

If you've made the decision to study abroad in 2021 or 2022, you're in for the adventure of a lifetime. Studying abroad regularly ranks among the top experiences travelers list when reflecting on their lives of travel -- and it's common to see students who study abroad end up going abroad to volunteer, teach, or learn a foreign language later in life.

But apart from the typical adventures that study abroad brings, you will also be navigating travel amidst (or directly following) a global pandemic. This doesn't mean that study abroad is impossible, but it does mean that your options may look a little different than they would have pre-2020. More importantly, it means that you will need to be flexible. There is no way to predict what the world will look like six months to a year from now, so you will have to be open to new experiences and new definitions of study abroad. But not to worry, because mastering this open mindset now will do nothing but serve you in the future. Travel always requires flexibility, so good on you for embracing that whole-heartedly!

As you start planning to study abroad, the main question you have might be about 'where to go.' You may have perused the most popular destinations but want something a little more off the beaten track. You aren't alone in wanting to follow your own path while studying abroad, and you might be shocked how much you love studying in an unconventional destination and how different your stories are from fellow students when you return home. In the whole world though, where do you start narrowing down the list? Aside from those ultra-popular study abroad destinations, where should you go? Don't worry: we've got you covered.

The following ten destinations have been hand-picked by Go Overseas staff due to their interesting programs and unique offerings for students. These study abroad destinations offer a wide range of opportunities as varied as their individual cultures, histories, and geographies. Consider taking the route less traveled when you study abroad in 2021 or 2022 -- these countries will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Virtual Study Abroad

I know, I know, sitting in front of your computer all day is not what you envisioned when you decided to study abroad. Trust me, I get it. But as we adjust to our new normal which discourages any unnecessary travel, it's not a bad idea to consider a virtual study abroad program.

So what even is virtual study abroad? Well, to put it simply, virtual study abroad is simply international study, online. These means that rather than boarding a plane and jetting off to a far-flung destination, you'll get to study abroad from the comfort of your own couch (or wherever else you have a strong internet connection). While you won't be taking envy-inspiring travel photos, you will learn from top international instructors, make connections with peers and mentors around the world, and immerse yourself in a new culture, region, language, or field of study.

Programs such as EdOdyssey's Virtual Study Abroad Program in Peru offers students the chance to directly engage with the history and culture of Peru, in an accessible format. In general, virtual study abroad programs will be more affordable than their in-person counterparts--another reason why virtual programs top our list this year!

Other Inspiring Virtual Study Abroad Programs:

Bhutan

If you want cultural immersion alongside your classes, Bhutan is the study abroad destination for you. A beautiful, mountainous country dotted with ancient monasteries and fortresses, you can expect your learning to occur both inside and outside the classroom. Popular for its trekking and pristine wilderness, students can take classes focusing on the environment, conversation, climate change, river ecosystems, and more at The School for Field Studies (SFS).

At the highly ranked Royal University of Bhutan, program participants wear traditional dress during their studies and live with local students. This program aims to fully integrate participants into Bhutanese society, offering classes exploring cultural studies, Buddhism, and traditional arts. Check out some other interesting programs and think about giving Bhutan a try.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Bhutan:

Morocco

Africa is a continent often overlooked by students wishing to study abroad. Here at Go Overseas, we want to change that. Many exciting opportunities to explore culture and history await prospective students in countries across Africa. Morocco is one of three African destinations on our list for 2021 and 2022 and for good reason! A fusion of indigenous Berber, Arab, Spanish, and French influences, Morocco makes a unique and interesting place to undertake your studies.

If you're interested in focusing on Moroccan culture and diversity, CIEE's program in Rabat might be of interest. Additionally, students wishing to pursue a broader range of subjects such as Middle Eastern studies, art, economics, and political science can take classes in Meknes with International Studies Abroad or Rabat with IES Abroad. Whether you're interested in Arabic, art, architecture, history, religion, or anything in between, Morocco has something to offer.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Morocco:

Bolivia

Are you a Spanish language student? Simply interested in study and travel in South America but don't know where to start? Bolivia may be the perfect study abroad destination for you. A safe and friendly country, Bolivia is home to the Andes mountains, the second largest lake in South American, Lake Titicaca, and a portion of the Amazon rainforest.

A former Spanish colony, Bolivia is incredibly diverse; aside from Spanish, there are 36 different indigenous languages spoken here. To study abroad and engage with these indigenous communities, consider the Indigenous Politics & Development program through Amizade Abroad or Multiculturalism, Globalization & Social Change with SIT Study Abroad. If the Spanish language is your focus, an intensive, small group instruction with AmeriSpan in the capital city, Sucre. There is something for every taste in Bolivia.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Bolivia:

Sweden

While your love of ABBA, meatballs, or IKEA may draw you to Sweden, the country is more than the sum of its pop culture references. Consistently noted for its high standard of living and quality education, Sweden makes a great place to study abroad. Sweden may not be the cheapest European country to live in but discounts and perks abound for students for things like travel, food, and sightseeing.

Whether you choose to study in a big city with The Swedish Program at the Stockholm School of Economics or in a small town like Växjö through USAC's Linnaeus University program, you'll be able to enjoy everything this breathtaking country and its open-minded people have to offer.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Sweden:

Senegal

Known as "the gateway to the African continent" because of its ports and strategic location on the Western coast, Senegal is a country whose study abroad programs come highly recommended from past participants. Alumni of these programs enjoyed forging meaningful friendships with local residents and becoming immersed in the culture and French language.

Get swept away by Senegal's charm during a summer abroad studying language and culture with APA in Dakar, the capital. You will live with a host family, experience Senegalese dance, art, and music, and take courses in African studies, anthropology, and sociology. The Dakar Institute of African Studies will introduce you to Senegal's cultural and religious diversity through courses focusing on the Wolof language, African religions, and even fashion. Join the countless other students who have fallen in love with Senegal after their study abroad experience.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Senegal:

Peru

Another South American destination to consider is home to one of the world's wonders, Machu Picchu. Bordering Bolivia to the west, Peru boasts breathtaking beaches, modern cities, ancient ruins, and the famous Amazon rainforest, all while ranking among the safest destinations in South America. Peru is the perfect place for those interested in nature and conservation with courses focusing on Biodiversity and Development in the Amazon and Mountain Research and Ecology in the Peruvian Andes.

With one of the largest populations of indigenous peoples in South America, many programs relating to anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and human rights exist for a unique learning experience. Touted for its blend of cultural immersion and classroom-based learning, SIT Study Abroad offers Indigenous Peoples and Globalization during which students spend a semester examining the most pertinent issues facing this population.

A mix of the old and new set in lush and picturesque surroundings, Peru truly has it all.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Peru:

Poland

Looking for a European study abroad experience without the European price tag? If so, Poland is the country for you. Living and studying in Poland means you will learn about the country's culture, sample national dishes like bigos and kielbasa, and explore the history and impact of World War II.

Through the Business, European and Holocaust Studies program with USAC, students spend a semester or academic year in Krakow. Classes are conducted in English (opportunities exist for classes in Polish for language learners, too!) and students can take courses from a wide variety of subjects including business, European studies, Holocaust studies, political science, and sociology.

Similarly, API runs a highly rated interdisciplinary program in Krakow at Jagiellonian University, which, founded in 1364, is one of Central Europe's oldest universities.

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Poland:

Egypt

Nicknamed "the cradle of civilization," Egypt's fascinating history dates back thousands of years. Famous for its pyramids, mummies, and ancient culture, history buffs, Arabic language learners, and adventure lovers will be right at home in one of Egypt's study abroad programs.

Alexandria University offers a wide range of subjects including veterinary medicine, education, tourism, and the arts in the lively port city of Alexandria. The American University in Cairo is also a great choice for international students looking for a range of possible courses to take. And when you're not in class, you can go check out the pyramids! Talk about a study break!

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Egypt:

Portugal

Located on the Iberian Peninsula next door to Spain, Portugal's stunning architecture, friendly people, and laid-back lifestyle will steal your heart. Study in the capital city, Lisbon, and enjoy lively nightlife and endless sightseeing opportunities outside of class. Lisbon is touted as the birthplace of the traditional music genre Fado and is home to famous landmarks like Jeronimos Monastery, a World Heritage site.

Popular programs here include business studies at the University Institute of Lisbon or Portuguese language and culture with CIEE, but there are plenty of options to choose from, including programs for just about any major you might be studying. So what are you waiting for?

Other Inspiring Study Abroad Programs in Portugal:

Where Will the New Year Take You?

While researching your options for where to study abroad this coming year, consider one of the above destinations for an exciting change of pace. Each has its own unique vibe and perspective with interesting course offerings to challenge you.

While 2020 has derailed many of our international plans, 2021 and 2022 still hold promise for what's to come. Now is a time to embrace connection, flexibility, and community, so plan ahead and enjoy all that study abroad has to offer.