Should you study creative writing overseas? The answer is yes! As a student of a discipline that embraces storytelling and unique points of view, a semester or more in a foreign country will be invaluable to your growth as a creative.
Studying overseas, you’ll encounter cultural differences alongside new ideas in the classroom -- and you’ll learn how to weave each learned experience into your own lifestyle and writings. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is an excellent way to challenge your preconceptions about the world and find your voice as a writer.
At the end of the day, creative writing is about telling compelling stories. There is certainly no better way to garner a few of your own classic tales than by traveling overseas.
From classroom learning to immersion experiences, the types of overseas programs to pursue are abundant. Creative writing students will thrive in the following programs.
Discussion-based classes are wonderful for analyzing literature, hashing out your creative ideas, and receiving valuable feedback on your writing. In a workshop-style class, you and your peers will bring unique backgrounds to the table, helping everyone gain a fresh perspective on what makes a good story.
If you’ve been wanting to include different cultures in your writings or try penning a tale in a foreign language, real-world immersion courses are a terrific start. These programs often include language classes and host family accommodation, which will help you become more knowledgeable of local customs.
Heading overseas is an exciting way to finish up your senior thesis. For creative writing students, you’ll likely need to hand in a writing portfolio that’s focused on a specific genre, like fiction or poetry. Studying under the guidance of accomplished foreign authors is a smart way to fine-tune your final piece.
Where to Go
With creative writing programs available around the globe, choosing a host country might cause some out of control pros and cons lists. The below regions are popular for students of the written word.
In Europe, creative writing programs run tandem with literature courses in an abundance of locations. Naturally, Shakespeare’s roots in the United Kingdom invite playwrights and poets. Meanwhile, students of general creative writing disciplines will also find enticing courses in countries like Italy, Spain, and France, some of which might challenge you to write in another language.
Universities in South Africa and Ghana welcome creative writing students to take their studies overseas. In literature-heavy courses, you’ll polish your reading repertoire before tackling your own creative projects, allowing you to learn and apply techniques from masters of the craft. Explore programs through organizations like Arcadia University and NYU.
Universities in Australia and New Zealand host creative writing students for a semester or more overseas. With an UNESCO World Heritage City of Literature like Melbourne or Dunedin as the backdrop to your studies, you won’t struggle to find the motivation to wield your own pen. IES Abroad and CIS Abroad run programs here and in the next region on this list.
Another top spot for overseas creative writing programs is Asia. Courses in Thailand and Japan will have you studying the work of acclaimed local authors while completing creative writing assignments. Plus, as your overseas adventure takes you beyond the borders of your host country, you’ll find plenty more tales to tell through your travels.
Planning Your Trip
Like any huge life decision, studying overseas requires a few pre-trip steps to ensure that you have the best possible experience.
How to Choose a Creative Writing Study Abroad Program
Selecting an overseas creative writing program can be an enjoyable portion of trip preparation, but it’s one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As an imaginative person, your initial thoughts will probably center around atmosphere -- after all, working on assignments in a Parisian café sounds pretty quintessential study abroad creative writing student.
However, traveling outside of your comfort zone could be exactly what you need to evaluate your creative abilities from a new point of view. Course material is also extremely important -- some programs may lean more towards fiction while others cater to aspiring poets. Keep your professional goals in mind when planning, and don’t shy away from a challenge.
Health & Safety
While creative writing tends to be a safe field of study, your host country may carry its own unique risks. Make sure you’re at least up to date on your regular immunizations before you leave, and check in with your doctor about additional ones according to your destination.
While threats to personal safety will also vary by place, walking with a group of friends, carrying valuables in a neck pouch, and looking both ways before you cross the street are rules that can be applied almost everywhere. If you’re really worried, you can always purchase a travel insurance plan to cover the loss of possessions or medical emergencies.
Other Need to Know
Studying creative writing overseas will expand the opportunities for your future in so many ways. You’ll learn indispensable lessons from your professors, fellow students, and the experience of living abroad. Be open to applying new ideas to both your writing and your way of life. Flexibility is the key to success during a semester abroad.