Studying literature abroad offers opportunities that are impossible to get from home. From Europe to Asia, you'll be able to discuss the building blocks of culture with professors and students from around the world.
Whether you'd like to travel to the origin of your studies or experience a completely different take on literature itself, studying literature abroad is a great opportunity to expand your horizons as a student, reader, and writer.
Because literature is such a popular choice for study abroad (for good reason), choosing your program can be a bit overwhelming. You'll be choosing your program primarily based on language, and then on time period or subject matter.
Many programs that are offered will include classes in theater, film, art, and history alongside your typical literature classes. Talk with your advisor to see which classes are transferable to your home university, but don't be afraid to take a course that interests you, but might not be easily transferable. It could end up being your favorite one!
Many of the world's most famous writers were born and raised in the United Kingdom or Ireland. The fact that the language barrier is only a difference in accent and a handful of colloquial terms makes studying literature in the UK or Ireland a popular one.
As it turns out, there are many countries around the world teaching American and British literature -- and not always in the language of the host country. If you're interested in studying English literature but you'd like to go somewhere a bit less well-traveled, consider traveling to the Czech Republic, Belgium, or Canada instead.
Studying Spanish literature abroad is a fantastic way to improve your language skills and learn a great deal about the culture that influenced the work. You could read Cervantes' Don Quixote in its original language while traveling across the Spanish countryside.
Read, discuss, and write about some of the world's greatest writers like Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Albert Camus. Study prose, poetry, and plays in "la langue de l'amour" in bustling Paris or let the fields of lavender lure you to relax with your favorite novel in the small towns in the south of France.
Gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture by studying literature in China. For those with advanced Chinese speaking skills, you could consider enrolling directly with universities in China instead of through a program provider. Explore this list of the 7 Best Universities in China for International Students for more details. For students who are new to the language, third party partners offer a great deal of support in finding English-taught programs that will fit your need perfectly.
Where to Go
When you choose where to study literature abroad, think about your favorite authors and the chance to sit where they sat, eat where they ate, and walk where they walked. By living where they wrote, and being intentional about interacting with that culture, you'll get a good sense of what inspired their works.
English literature and Shakespeare go together like tea and honey, so it's not surprising that the United Kingdom is one of the top destinations for students studying English literature abroad.
Whether you are interested in Shakespeare and Elizabethan wit and tragedy, Jane Austen and the romantics of early nineteenth century, or the influential works of modernism and postmodernism Scotland, the countries of England, Northern Ireland, and Wales will not disappoint.
Ireland is also a hugely popular choice for studying literature abroad due to writers like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. The Irish are known for their skills in storytelling whether on paper, in song, or through theater and dance.
While in Ireland, you'll experience the greenest grass you can imagine, snarky humor, unparalleled kindness, winding roads, and incredible castles.
Referred to as the "country of poets" and offering some of the most highly ranked universities in Latin America, Chile is a great option for studying literature abroad.
Hone your Spanish skills by staying with a Chilean host family. Study the recent history of the country by reading and discussing plays like Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden." On weekends, you can get a feel of the country by hiking through gorgeous national parks, visiting art museums, talking to locals, and exploring the iconic statues of Easter Island.
If you have an interest in war literature or politics, studying literature in the Czech Republic is a great option. The cost of living is comparatively low to more expensive European destinations, and if you study in a major city like Prague, most people speak English. In the Czech Republic, you'll get a similar experience abroad at a lower price point.
Planning Your Trip
One of the benefits of studying abroad with a third party provider is that all the housing details are taken care of for you. Depending on where you go and how long you're there, you'll either stay with a host family, on campus or in student housing, or in hotels and hostels. If you are studying abroad for a semester or year, you'll likely have a choice between these options.
If you enroll directly to the international university, you'll have a much wider variety of living options. The university will almost surely have information on common options for international students.
There are pros and cons to every type of accommodation. Staying with a host family can provide an awesome opportunity to learn more about the culture and history of the host country as well as the language, but you have to be willing to engage in conversation on a regular basis.
Staying on campus can offer the chance to learn how to live on your own in a international city. If you're staying with other students, it's likely you'll meet people from all over the world.
If you've decided to study literature abroad and you know where you're heading, you can find books in that language or by authors from that country. For example, you can get a head start by reading current authors such as Alejandro Zambra and Diamela Eltit for a contemporary look at Chilean culture. Once you start a reading list tailored to your destination, you can try to visit the actual places mentioned or inspired by the works you're reading.
Consult your academic advisor to set up a tentative course schedule and make sure that the credits you earn can be transferred back to your home university. You may also want to look up the clubs and events offered by your study abroad university to see if there are any literature-related activities available.