You can pretty much study anything anywhere, though sociology aligns itself particularly nicely with the concept of study abroad. After all, both are centered around immersing yourself in other societies in order to understand them.
As a sociology student, you will be expected to observe and study human societies in all of their incredible diversity. This is much harder to do if you have only ever experienced your own society and your own culture. Just the act of heading to an entirely different country for your studies places you in the right mindset. Most sociology courses involve fieldwork -- by studying overseas, your whole study experience can be your fieldwork.
In most universities, sociology is taught with a blend of classroom learning and fieldwork. Your theoretical learning will take place in large lectures or small seminars, while your fieldwork will give you the opportunity to head out into the world and observe unique cultures and subcultures first-hand.
If you are doing a postgraduate, you may do a research thesis. This will tend to involve lengthy immersion and study of a particular group over the course of several months or even years. At the end of this, you will produce a piece of published research.
There are also shorter courses of study you can do, for example, summer programs. These don’t involve studying sociology as a scientific field but do allow for short cultural immersion with lessons on local history, culture, and language.
Where to Go
Sociology is offered as a subject in most major universities, including many English-speaking ones around the world. With such a wide range of choice, you are free to choose whichever country appeals to you the most, and whichever culture you would most love to explore from a sociological perspective.
South Korea is quickly becoming one of the coolest and trendiest countries in the world, but behind the K-Pop and bibimpap, there is a unique and fascinating traditional culture to explore. Sociology students will be based in cities like Seoul, Daegu, and Busan, which blend the breakneck progress of modern Korea with its historical roots.
The food, the architecture, the history, the climate: all combine to make Italy a mesmerizing experience for all who visit. As a student, and especially as a sociology one, you will be able to immerse yourself in the everyday life and culture of Italians, really getting to the root of what makes the country so special. And sure, you will also eat an absurd amount of pizza and gelatto.
The UK has a wealth of world-class universities, most of which offer excellent sociology programs. The fact that all of them are English-speaking is a huge plus since you don’t have to limit your search to international institutions.
The local culture is not likely to be too shocking, but it is different enough to give you some new perspectives. This is especially the case if you head somewhere with its own distinct identity like Scotland or Wales.
Planning Your Trip
Shorter programs will tend to do much of the organizing for you, and international English-speaking universities also usually provide a lot of support. If you are going to study abroad in a normal university in an English-speaking country, you may have to do more of the work yourself in terms of seeking housing, planning transport, and settling in.
How to Choose a Sociology Study Abroad Program
Since most sociology programs involve a degree of fieldwork, the best strategy is to go to a country whose culture you would like to closely study. While fieldwork is not always limited to the country where you are based, your university’s support systems will be most effective locally.
If you are interested in a country’s society, but that country doesn’t have any good sociology programs, go for somewhere that is geographically close or culturally similar. Alternatively, you can look up which universities have carried out sociology research in your area of interest.
Health & Safety
As a broad field of study, sociology doesn’t involve any particular hazards.
Some projects may involve spending a lot of time in risky urban zones -- if this is an area of study that interests you, make sure you have the necessary support and experience to navigate these spaces.
Other Need To Know
It's always a good idea to learn the local language when studying abroad, but this is a field where it is particularly useful. You want to be able to immerse yourself in the culture and have insightful conversations with the locals, and a language barrier can really get in the way of that. Even if you are studying an English-speaking course, make an effort to join a language class.
Sociology Study Abroad Programs
AIFS Diversity Achievement Scholarship
AIFS offers a number of scholarships, including one for high achieving students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in education abroad.
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