Knowing about how different cultures work and interact with each other is so important in our global economy, especially as our world becomes ever more interconnected.

So how does studying abroad come into play? Studying international relations abroad helps widen your knowledge of political and economic situations in different global regions, as well as providing a more in-depth knowledge of different cultures.

An international relations degree can lead to work in fields in which international knowledge and experience is valued, such as diplomacy, humanitarian, politics, and law.

Photo credit: Falcon_33.

You may be looking to follow an academic career path, or you may dream of becoming a diplomat, working in international affairs, or for an international company. Students can study a full international relations degree or incorporate international relations papers into a wider political science degree.

International relations degrees and course offerings can cover a lot of ground from terrorism, international human rights, and conflict resolution, to cultural policy, migration, and global development. Courses may also focus on relations within or between different countries or regions.

Specialized study focus tends to take place at the graduate degree level.

We’ve outlined some broad subject areas below, but know that papers and specialized degree paths will vary between institutions.

Human Rights

Studying human rights is part of many degree programs, including law as well as international relations. Students may focus on child labor, detention, racial and gender discrimination, look at case studies, and evaluate policies.

The European Union

The introduction and subsequent evolution of the European Union following the Second World War occupies a lot of newspaper column inches, both within and outside of Europe. The result of the UK’s Brexit referendum has only seen this coverage increase.

Foreign Policy Analysis

Studying how governments interact with and react to other nations is one of the cornerstones of international relations degrees. Foreign policy papers often look at the processes, agents, and implications of foreign policy, which are the results of governments trying to protect their interests and achieve international goals.

Universities around the world offer degrees in international relations, meaning you will have your pick when it comes to choosing a study abroad destination. That said, you will benefit from considering universities that specialize in your chosen field or are located in the geographic areas you have an interest in.

Many universities have relationships with different institutions around the world, but you may choose to plan your international experience with a study abroad program provider.

Geneva, Switzerland

Studying international relations in Geneva, Switzerland gives you access to numerous international agencies and research centers. Geneva is home to the second-largest office of the United Nations and the international Red Cross, making it a center for diplomacy. A study abroad program will cover multilateral diplomacy and addresses contemporary international issues. Programs often include lectures and briefings at international organizations, such as United Nations agencies, the Red Cross, and EU institutions.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The capital of Argentina is known for its European-style architecture and atmosphere. Buenos Aires is an international city with many languages spoken, making it one of the most diverse cities in Latin America. A study abroad program in international relations will cover theories and philosophies of political science. You’ll also be able to brush up on your Spanish, which ranks just after Chinese as having the most native speakers worldwide.

London, England

London is a globally important city and a cultural hub. People come from all over the world to work and study in London, creating an incredibly diverse city. Additionally, the city is home to one of the oldest international relations departments. Here, the program looks at applications of concepts and theories, and how states and territories are linked.

Course Requirements

Look for a program that aligns with your future career goals. If you hope to work in a specific geographic location in the future, then choosing to study in that region and learn about the culture close to your interests can help lay some of the groundwork now.

Most study abroad programs offer course credits, helping satisfy requirements for graduation. If the course credits aren’t compatible with your degree program, you may have to complete another semester at your home institution. While the benefits and experience gained are worth it, make sure you have all the information you need before making a decision.

Talking to program providers and student advisors at your home institution will help you find the program best suited to your needs and study goals.

Foreign Languages

Knowing a second (or third!) language can be a massive asset to an international career. Consider choosing a country where you want to learn more about the culture and language or a program that offers language lessons or classes in another language.


The housing provided for study abroad students will depend on the program. Student housing is usually provided in a residence hall, a shared student apartment, or a homestay. In some cases, students will have to find their accommodations independently. Many students enrolled in long-term programs often begin in student housing before moving into private accommodations of their own.


A number of scholarships are available to students studying overseas, with organizations offering both region and academic area specific scholarship. If you require financial assistance, talking to your home institution or program provider is often the best place to start. A number of scholarships are listed right here on Go Overseas, including the Go Overseas Study & Intern Abroad Scholarship.

Get Involved

You will get more out of your overseas experience the more you put into it. On top of that, checking out local or university-based clubs, societies, and social groups is an amazing opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the new culture you are living in. Organizing or running such a group will also help develop your leadership and organizational skills.

Culture Shock

Almost every student will have to learn how to cope with culture shock at some point during their study abroad experience. For language students overseas, not only is the language different, but also the food, culture, and even style of dress. It helps to keep an open mind when arriving in a new country, but we have lots of tips on our blog on how to deal with homesickness, especially during the holidays.

To aid the settling in process, participate in any orientation activities offered by the host institution or program organizers. Make friends with local students, who will be able to help navigate you through any unfamiliar routines and places. And don’t forget to regularly check in with friends and family back home.

Contributed by Hayley Prins


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