Erica Biagini and I Stumble On To a Great Strategy For Selecting a Study Abroad City During Her Interview About Bilbao, Spain

Erica Biagini Bilbao, Spain

“I’m not going to say that every single day was easy during my time abroad . . . but looking back, the fact that I was able to persevere through those times is priceless to me.” — Erica Biagini

I’ve interviewed many a student who studied abroad in Spain, but none that lived in Bilbao; a city with a population of 345,000 that’s nestled in the north of the water surrounded country.

“Cozy up with a good book” is how I’d describe Erica’s interview. Only in this case, the book is Biagini it’s your ears instead of your eyes. She does a great job of telling multiple stories inside her story and we had a lot of fun recording it. 

My favorite part was her unsuccessful attempt to have a traditional Thanksgiving in Spain.  🦃 not so much, so she had to settle for 🐓.

I’m excited about the PDF 📝 that goes along with this interview, too because:

A) I don’t normally link to PDFs or lists


B) it’s great insight

I’ve been weaving this theme into the interviews and articles and it deals with picking a place to study abroad.

Thank you to Erica for shedding the light on this important decision process.

“Everything that you need is already within you.” (“Todo lo que necesitas, ya esta dentro”)



  • Choosing to study on scholarship in Bilbao – an underrated gem of Spain 💎 [1:58]
  • Struggling socially in a single-person dorm room, searching for apartments in a second language 🤦‍♀️ [7:51]
  • Exploring the scenic beauty of Spain, France, and Scotland 🏞 [9:28]
  • The stress of being stranded while traveling due to missed busses and Airbnb 🚍[12:00]
  • Better burgers and pizza in Spain and the ubiquity of Sangria 🍔🍕🍷 [16:48]
  • Chicken for Thanksgiving (but Erica gets an A for effort) 🍗 [20:25]
  • Learning to connect with people and commit to plans after studying abroad 🙋‍♂️[23:35]
  • Enjoying the “Community of Care” at Butler University 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 [25:38]
  • Recommendations and final quotes 🙌 [28:48]
    • Skyscanner 🛫
    • Hopper (I haven’t used this personally, but was impressed with the interface of the site and have since downloaded the app) 💺
    • El Corte Inglés (Spain’s Target) 🍌👕

Want To Study Abroad In Vietnam? Listen To Martine Mazzei

Martina Mazzei in Vietnam

“There’s this whole other part of the world, or culture, or type of living that I had no idea existed.” Martina Mazzei (this link goes to her bodacious Insta food blog)

I’ve been waiting a long time for this because I have heard only good things about this country and can’t wait to go myself. Martina Mazzei studied abroad in Vietnam because her school actually has a satellite campus there.

Her dorm came with a cleaning service, she was able to hop on the back of a motorcycle to get to class, and she got to see and experience the entire country almost for free. Thailand and Cambodia? ✔️

Sometimes schools just get it and it sounds like Loyola is one of those schools.

After factoring in scholarships and cost of living Vietnam, Martina actually saved money by taking her trip. I know most schools won’t have satellite campuses set up like this in Vietnam, if anything, listening to this interview will help you pick up a few pointers as you craft your own journey. 

“Go forth and set the world on fire” – Loyola quote


  • Deciding to study at Loyola’s Vietnam campus on the cheap 💸 [2:16]
  • Luxurious dorm life and motorbiking with Vietnamese partner students  🏍[7:15]
  • Traveling around the country for free, to Thailand for Tet, and a geography lesson on Indochinese Peninsula 🚌 [10:44]
  • Learning to order banh mi without cucumbers and other “cultural conundrums and miscommunications” 🍲[15:18]
  • Teaching English to blind people in Vietnam, learning about inequalities in a developing country 👩‍🏫 [17:26]
  • Missing the food and friendliness of the street vendors 👨‍🌾 [19:50]

    Loyola Satellite campus Vietnam
    Loyola Chicago,
  • Falling in love with Loyola University and why it’s a great school to attend 🎓 [22:21]
  • Recommendations and final quotes 🙌[25:09]

Movies Set In Vietnam

Because of the war there have been a lot of great movies set in Vietnam, many of which have won academy awards. Oddly enough Forrest Gump wasn’t on Google’s list but I think that should count. Thoughts?

A list of movies set in Vietnam

A list of movies set in Vietnam

5 Things You Should Know Before Going To Ho Chi Minh [Infographic]


Martina's Vietnam adventures


12.5 Places To Consider Studying Abroad

Study Abroad Smarter's Recommendation

Ok, so here’s what I did:

12.5 Places To Study Abroad

Every study abroad company compiles annual lists of the most popular study abroad destinations based on data from students that studied abroad with them. I looked at all the lists and simply combined them into one, super list, which you can find below.

The beauty of it is that it’s not just the most popular places. It’s the places that make the most sense: economically, academically; what have you. Plus there is the ‘.5’ at the end of my list which you won’t find on any other site’s popularity contest of study abroad destinations so we feel like our list reigns supreme…bwahahaha.

Now you’ve got some context. On with the article!

P.S. It’s not a ranking, it’s a list, so they’re in no particular order.

If a study abroad trip is in your future, you’ve got a lot of decisions to make. About things like when to go and how long to stay, how to pay for it, where to live, and what classes to take. Yes, we’ve got a lot of the bases covered here on The Study AblogBut we thought we’d give you even more options with a fresh, robust post on the subject. 

Maybe you already have some ideas, but don’t start packing just yet. Before you address any of these, the most basic, possibly most difficult, and definitely most important decision you have to make is where you want to study abroad.

The destination you choose will have a huge impact on your experience; it will be vital not only to what you learn, but how you learn. So you’ll want to choose a country with the most ideal living situation for you.

Exactly how do you pick the best country to study abroad in?

It really depends on you and what you want to get out of your international experience. Here’s some info that can help you decide:

Traditional and Not-So-Traditional Study Abroad Options

Certain countries automatically come to mind when students think of studying abroad. They’re the most traditional choices, often the ones we’ve been most exposed to and are most familiar with like England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and China. Studying in one of these countries might be the once-in-a-lifetime chance you’ve always dreamed of to be some place you’ve always wanted to visit.

If that’s how you feel, go for it and make your dream country your home away from home.

Or… consider something new and different for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Study Abroad and Food
So steaks, beer, and sides with tip – $10 each. BOOM!

The Best Study Abroad Countries As We Transition Into A New Decade

Take a look at the most popular places to study abroad, based on the programs they offer, the level of interest that students have expressed in them, and recommendations from students who have already been there

1. JAPAN 🇯🇵

The benefits of studying abroad in Japan
Sushi – @bady

There’s something for everyone in Japan. Modern cities, traditional villages, beaches, mountains, museums, temples and shrines – this small country packs a really big wallop.

It’s slowly becoming creeping up the lists in popularity and it’s becoming more and more obvious why. 

Besides providing the world with some of the most advanced technological advances to date, this exciting island nation is a mecca for pop culture, as well as a world-class center of art, literature, and music.

Pick the bustling urban lifestyle of a city like Tokyo, or the more casual atmosphere of a smaller town like Sapporo (this might sound familiar if you’ve been saki bombing). Or hop outside your comfort zone and explore the many picturesque villages that dot the Japanese countryside. Whatever you choose, you’ll have one opportunity after another to be captivated by the culture of truly enchanting Japan.

Japan’s History in 9 Minutes (this is a Youtube favorite with 45+ million views)


The benefits of studying abroad in South Korea
Bibimbap – @souschef

Are you surprised? South Korea is a relative newcomer to the list of favorite destinations, but an upswing in the popularity of K-pop a K-dramas has helped put this country on many English-speaking students’ study abroad radar.

Korean language courses, as well as English classes focusing on the arts and sciences make this a great place to work toward your undergraduate or master’s degree.

If a fast-paced, diverse setting appeals to you, consider Seoul, the country’s vibrant capital where you can immerse yourself in the unique customs of the culture, flavorful foods, and the one and only Gangnam District. With so much to offer, it’s easy to see why South Korea is quickly becoming a top choice among foreign students. Maybe you will be one of them!

3. BRAZIL 🇧🇷

The Benefits of Studying Abroad in Brazil
Brazilian Beignets – @oliviascuisine

This one’s not on anyone else’s list, and I honestly I haven’t even interviewed anyone that studied abroad here, yet. It’s not one of the most popular destinations, and other countries may seem more appealing to you.


They experienced an economic crisis in 2014 which means it’s pennies on the dollar (26 pennies as of this writing) right now. I’ve been to Brazil and It was AMAZING. Email me if you have any questions, too. There is so much more about this country that I could pen an entire post about it, so TBC on that.

A Short Video I Made From My Visits To Florianopolis & Bariloche

(Bariloche is in Argentina which also made the list)


The benefits of studying abroad in South Africa
Chakalaka – @_cookingwithclara

This option is a little more outside the box, but quickly gaining popularity. Considered by the international science community to be the cradle of humankind, South Africa is steeped in rich cultural, political, and archaeological history. Yet, you’ll be amazed at how modern and developed it is. And how culturally diverse (as in 11 official languages). For international undergraduates the University of Capetown is a great school to consider; not only is it affordable, but also South Africa’s highest ranked university.

In order to truly appreciate the flavor of this intriguing country, I recommend that you go local.

The townships are living memorials of South Africa’s somewhat erratic past, but also offer local attractions that you shouldn’t miss, like Vilikazi Street in Soweto and Mzoli’s Place, an outdoor restaurant where visitors are introduced to the somewhat unique combination of really loud music and scrumptious “braaing”, or barbequing as we would say.

By the way, South African currency, the Rand, is extremely weak which gives you the green light to eat and shop to your heart’s content, even on a meager student budget. Once you get there, this is one super affordable destination.


The benefits of studying abroad in Australia
Seafood pasta – @adolfofelix

Head down under for an unbeatable place to study, especially for first-timers. No need to learn a new language here, as this is an English-speaking country filled with fun and friendly Aussies. It might take a little effort to get used to their slang, but your new “mates” will help you get the hang of it in no time.

Adventure seekers will love Australia’s mix of rugged terrain, expansive beaches, and cosmopolitan cities. Like Sydney, for example, where there’s never a shortage of cultural activities, gorgeous beaches, and a hopping night life to keep you busy.

cost of going to the great barrier reef

Brisbane is another popular option, consistently ranking in the top five as the best and most affordable student city. It’s where you can combine a world-class education with an amazing international experience – without breaking the bank. And if you’re looking for things to do in your spare time, pick from a long list of great cultural sites, live music, theater, and entertainment venues. Or pay a visit to Australia’s largest art gallery. You’ll find it in Brisbane.

No need to feel left out if you’re more the outdoorsy type. A trek through Australia’s Outback will give you an up-close and personal look at the beauty of gorgeous landscapes and landmarks.

6. FRANCE 🇫🇷

The benefits of studying abroad in France
Wine and cheese, two French staples – @jeztimms

France always attracts students in record numbers. Food. History. Romance. These are some of the words that probably pop into your mind when you think of this super popular host country.French food words

By far, Paris is the go-to city for international students. Are you picturing the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, sidewalk cafes, fabulous dining, and strolls along the Seine? Oh, and don’t forget the Louvre. 

There are lots of other excellent study abroad programs available outside the capital that are much more affordable. Consider Aix-en-Provence in southern France, a beautiful university city with stunning beach access. If food is your thing, you’re sure to love Lyon, which is one of the culinary capitals of the world.

Smaller cities like these can be just as fun and exciting as Paris, with living costs that are way easier on the budget.

7. ITALY 🇮🇹

The benefits of studying abroad in Italy
Pasta Carbonera – @nonsolofood_roma

Like France, Italy continues to be one of the most sought-after destinations for study abroad students. There’s pretty much something to meet everyone’s educational goals here with programs that blend Italian cultural studies with major courses from business to fine arts. Plus most programs require little or no Italian language study (although I can’t imagine not wanting to soak up as much of this beautiful, romantic language as you can).

The country itself will be a feast for your eyes and soul with iconic historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, and luscious cuisine around every corner. You definitely should be ready to put on a few pounds. And, of course, is there anything that beats the fabulous Mediterranean weather!

Rome and Florence are the two cities selected most often by study abroad students, but many other less popular cities around the country will not disappoint. Sorrento with it’s stunning water views and an amazing culinary scene is a perfect example.

And given the theme of food in this post, I think it’s worth noting that I recently interviewed a well known international travel blogger who said Italy was “hands down” the best country she has ever been to for food.

This incapsulates the city of Rome to me 😂

8. SPAIN 🇪🇸

The benefits of studying abroad in Spain
Tapas, or ‘small plates’

Every year, thousands of students pick Spain as their study abroad destination. Maybe it’s the great climate, or the rich cultural history, the friendly people or their laid back lifestyle. Or maybe it’s the daily siestas! Whatever the draw, the country consistently hosts a diverse group of student visitors from around the world.

Similarly, the diversity of programs guarantees housing and classroom options to suit every need. Keep in mind, however, that because thisI've interviewed more students from Spain than anywhere elseis such a popular choice for studying abroad, it may take a little extra effort to immerse yourself in the local culture. To get the full impact, make it a priority to explore outside your comfort zone.

Whether on campus or mingling with the locals, this is the ideal place to hone your Spanish speaking skills. There’s nothing that the people of this country like better than lively conversation, sharing delicious food and drink, and enjoying the sun and surf with friends at their sun-drenched beaches.

The capital city of Madrid is the hub and heart of Spain; it’s a lively student city packed with things to see and do. Boredom will never be a problem in this engaging metropolis. If that’s not your style, many of the smaller cities and towns also host student populations that are just as active. Cities like Seville, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Granada are some of the most popular, all easily accessible by public transportation.

9. CHINA 🇨🇳

The benefits of studying abroad in China
“Don’t forget the chopsticks” – @purewow

With more than 4,000 years of recorded history, China is an exceptionally interesting and exciting place to study. Its immense size (nearly as big as the entire continent of Europe), also makes this fascinating country extremely diverse.

China is a rising global powerhouse that boasts the largest emerging economy in the world. In light of these distinctions, business students and language enthusiasts wholeheartedly have taken to pursuing Mandarin and Cantonese study.

Duolingo claims 2.85 million registered Chinese language learners, with that number continually rising. There’s no doubt that proficiency in the language could give you a great competitive advantage when you enter the job market. Job experience or internships will also add a plus to your resume, particularly if they’re at one of the many corporate headquarters in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong.

When you’re not studying, be sure to put iconic landmarks like the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors on your “must do” list.

If you travel to China, you may want to prepare yourself for some culture shock. But go ahead and dive right in. The unique language and cultural perspectives just might be the highlight of your study abroad experience.


The benefits of studying abroad in the U.K.
Fish n’ Chips

The UK is one of the most popular places to study in the world, with London, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland, typically being the top cities. Because there’s so much diversity among the four countries, one could be just right for you.


So, maybe this is your first time away from home. If you’re feeling a little jittery about being on your own in a foreign country, England is a great choice. Since English is spoken everywhere, the transition is pretty undramatic. Yes, even with all the quirky dialects. Many students love the built-in familiarity of this well-known country, as well as not having a language barrier to contend with. Is that you?On the other hand, because there’s not much discrepancy in culture,

some feel that England isn’t very challenging as a study abroad destination; it’s a little too comfortable and easy for them

Is that you?

Of course, you can expect to get a great education. England is home to prestigious universities like Oxford and Cambridge. And when you’re busy studying, there’s always plenty to do in your free time, especially in London, which, naturally, is a favorite. You won’t want to miss iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace (will you be the one to make the Queen’s guards smile?), Windsor Castle, Big Ben, the Tower of London, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Elsewhere, there are well-known landmarks like Blackpool Tower, Stonehenge, and the White Cliffs of Dover.

One thing to keep in mind is that London is quite expensive, so if England is your go-to destination, another university town definitely would be more budget-friendly.


Edinburgh – @topukphoto

This may be one of the best kept secrets for studying abroad. Historic castles (maybe you’ll live in one!), royalty, breathtaking landscapes, to-die-for food, museums, bagpipes, festivals, kilts, soccer, bustling cities like Edinburgh, and rolling country hills. From what I’ve been told, Scotland grabs you and never lets go – you’re going to feel right at home the minute you arrive.

Even though Scotland is not attached to mainland Europe, a great transportation system makes it easy and cheap to trek over to any European country. Or fly to Ireland for around $25 round trip. Within Scotland, trains and buses ensure you can get anywhere you want to be.

What about the Scottish people? They’re great – warm and welcoming and always happy to share their kooky, but lovely lifestyle with you.


West of England, south of Scotland, and east of Ireland, Wales is home to some of the UK’s top universities. Prestigious Bangor University, for example, features a variety of academic offerings for study abroad participants. Bangor is a small city with a big backdrop, otherwise known as Snowdonia National Park, the most beautiful national park in the UK. The city is not on most tourists’ itineraries; so if you’re looking to avoid congestion, you can experience a lifestyle that treasures both education and the environment. Inside the classroom and out, this is where you’ll discover a locale that has retained its rugged Celtic charm though the centuries.

Wales is a feast for the eyes with its lush countrysides, sprawling beaches, and towering ocean cliffs. Its stunning beauty will make you think you’re living on the set of an epic movie. And, oh, the castles! This picture-perfect country is home to more castles per square mile than any other country in the world. 🏰

The food of Wales is another feast to fall in love with – that includes everything from award-winning cheeses to scrumptious Welsh Black Beef.


Temple bar in Dublin [email protected]

You’ll hear the word “craic” a lot in Ireland. It’s pronounced crak and the best translation I can give you is “fun!” This gorgeous country is brimming with music and dance that will tickle your soul. You haven’t lived til you’ve sipped Guinness and done an Irish jig in a local pub. Or cheered on your favorite team with friends at a rugby, hurl, or football match. Maybe you’ll even join up and play a game or two yourself. Go for it and get involved. Rain or shine – and there is a lot of rain – the Irish love their sports.

On the more serious side, Ireland has deep-rooted history, customs, and traditions. Travel there and you’ll be welcomed by warm, hospitable people who will gladly share their history and vibrant culture with you. Academically, it’s home to some outstanding schools such as Trinity College in Dublin and Queen’s University in Belfast, which is one of the UK’s leading universities. Higher education in Ireland is internationally ranked, with exceptional offerings in the fields of literature, technology, communications, Irish studies, history, and environmental studies.

You know that Ireland is called the Emerald Isle, right. It really is a magical land of velvet green landscapes and soaring cliffs reaching down to the sea. Don’t forget to kiss the Blarney Stone while you’re there. It’s said you’ll gain the gift of eloquence, which sure can come in handy in a foreign country.

10. GERMANY 🇩🇪

The benefits of studying abroad in Germany
The description was in German but it had sausage and looked delicious so, yeah – @eingevleischt


The joys of a welcoming culture and world-class education draw students from around the world to Germany, a mainstay on the list of best places to study abroad year after year.

Germany is extremely student-friendly, with a variety of discounts available to the student population, like reduced or free public transit. Thanks to its status as an economic powerhouse, it is an especially popular destination for those interested in business, political science, and the German language. Some of the world’s largest companies are headquartered here, also making it a great place for academic internships. Land one of those and see what a plus it will be on your resume.

Interning in Germany
If interested in engineering or design, Germany should be definitely be on your radar. #internship

If you choose Germany, it will be helpful if you already know the language, at least partially. But many programs offer a combination of courses taught in German, as well as English, so it’s all do-able.

Besides being home to Oktoberfest and the Neuschwanstein Castle (think Disney’s Cinderella Castle), there are charming burgs everywhere and around other 20,000 castles to explore in your free time. Use those free transit passes! Get to know big city Berlin with its artsy alternative vibe, or check out some of the quaint and cozy smaller towns. The architecture, history, and culture of this beautiful country will grab you from day one.

Fun Fact: The very first interview I did on the podcast was an a story from Germany (and Austria) 🎙.


The benefits of studying abroad in Argentina
Empanadas – @pastdexter

Argentina is the second largest country in South America and, take it from me, it’s an amazing place to study abroad. I did a six-week program in Buenos Aires, the largest city, where I had the opportunity to live among some of the most fun-loving and passionate people I’ve ever met. They were warm and kind, and eager to show me the ropes. And seriously seriously improve my Spanish language skills.

I guarantee that you, too, will have an unforgettable experience from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Try tango dancing and dine on fine steak in Buenos Aires. Explore the wine country of Mendoza. Hike Patagonia. And absolutely make a trek to Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world. You’ll never see anything like it again in your life.

Argentina has a stunning natural beauty and diverse geography that are great if you’re into outdoor exploration and adventure. There’s so much to see and do, but the country is so expansive that I suggest focusing on one specific area at a time. Or better yet… stay longer! I wish I could have.

12. HAWAII 🇺🇸

The benefits of studying abroad domestically

You bet! This is an area I want to highlight more throughout the Study Abroad Smarter realm. What I mean by Hawaii is that you can study abroad anywhere in the United States. It’s not study abroad. Its study domestic, and it’s a thing. But students rarely do it because they don’t even think about it as an option.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a different city or state, shoot over to your friendly neighborhood study abroad advisor‘s office and see what’s good. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to help you plan it.


The benefits of studying abroad in an exotic location
One of the questions I tend to ask when I interview someone who has studied abroad in an exotic location is “do they have McDonald’s there?” It has become my unofficial way to gauge how developed the country is. Do you have the guts to go somewhere without the golden arches? – @food_ninja

The government actually wants you to learn less learned languages in more exotic countries. If you really want to get off the grid, immerse yourself, and take the path less traveled listen to this interview with Jeff Cary


The list below are what I consider to be the dark horses on the list. They’re less traveled, but there are still McDonald’s.

Think of it like this. You probably know someone who studied abroad in Australia or London, but you probably don’t know anyone who studied abroad in…

There are so many more, but use this list to jump-start your thinking process. See, there really is something for everyone. Now… where in the world will you decide to spend your study abroad time?

Also it’s worth noting to be cognizant of the expenses that go into the trip. It’s fun when the exchange rate is on your side.

A Big City vs. A Small Town

Even within a specific country, students who study in an urban area will have very different tales to tell than those who live in a smaller or more rural setting. The lifestyle differences can be substantial, with advantages and disadvantages to each.

Do you prefer the excitement and fast-pace of a big city or the serenity and laid-back environment of a small town?

There are colleges and universities in each type of locale. And by the way, the city or town where you study also will be a big factor in the cost of your trip. Determine which setting is best for you overall and make that part of your decision.

I’m using pictures and examples from the U.S. for a reason. My explanation at the bottom explains why.

Big City Pros 🏗🎭🏟🍕

The benefits of studying abroad in a big city.
Chicago – @apzphotographicart

If you’re not thrilled about giving up many of the conveniences you’re accustomed to, an urban area probably will be a good choice. For starters, you’ll find large cities to be well equipped with all the modern technologies you need, from internet to telephone to television.

Excellent public transportation systems make it easy to connect with just about any place you want to be – efficiently and cheaply. And the entertainment options are practically endless.

Spend your free time enjoying theaters and music venues, restaurants, clubs and pubs, coffee shops, sporting events, and stores packed with all your favorite brands from back home. Really, you’ll never run out of things to do.

Another attractive element of city life is the accessibility it provides to cultural attractions such as museums, art galleries, and iconic landmarks. Because metro areas are melting pots, you’ll be exposed to diverse groups of people from different cultures, often speaking multiple languages. Take advantage of the opportunities to interact with them, on and off campus. This in itself is an beneficial, eye-opening experience that can help prepare you for a career anywhere in the world.

Studying in an urban setting provides convenient access to career-boosting internships and jobs at prime companies. With professionals and other top executives headquartered in large cities, it’s also easier to network and connect with the people who can possibly open doors for you job-wise.

Big City Cons 🏭💥🏗💰

All these components of big city living are enticing, but keep in mind that they do come at a price. Everything is typically more expensive in an urban setting, including food, rent, and entertainment. Do you really want to choose between paying the rent or taking a life-changing side trip to an iconic site? You and your family will need to determine if study abroad in a big city makes sense for you financially.

With so many fun things to do right at your fingertips, you have to make sure you’ve got the discipline to put your academics first and not let all the extras distract you. I’m not saying this will be the case for you, but it’s been known to happen. I’m just sayin’…

Rent in Chicago, IL from @Zillow

While you certainly will be exposed to a variety of cultures in a large city, you probably won’t experience total cultural immersion. Sure, there will be hints of it everywhere, but metro areas are always the first parts of a country to be internationalized. This means you won’t have much difficulty finding familiar foods and products, as well as friends from your own country. Will you be in your comfort zone? Sure. But your experience won’t be as culturally enriching as it would be in a smaller town.

Lastly, consider the safety factor. Urban areas are arguably more dangerous than their rural counterparts. Not to mention the noise, traffic, lack of natural landscaping, and higher pollution levels – all components that may or ma

y not play a role in your decision to be a city dweller.

Small Town Pros 🛶🎢🏘🧘‍♀️

If you’re looking for a real taste of local culture, studying abroad in a small town may be ideal for you. Many students have come back from rural areas with a newfound understanding of the country they’ve been in. They’ve had the opportunity to live like a local and really immerse themselves in the culture. Living in a small town allows you to develop a sense of community and let your identity shine through. It’s a chance to personally develop yourself and overcome the challenges of a new language, customs, and environment.

Rent in Madison, WI

Unlike in a big city, making friends may be much easier. You won’t be among strangers for long. Besides getting to know the locals, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to interact with other students. And what better way to polish your language skills than to dive right in andactually use it.

At school, you’re likely to get more personal attention from professors and other university staff, making for a more interactive academic experience. You might even have your own tutor to support you and offer advice during your entire study abroad period.

There are other advantages to living in a small town. Living costs can be quite low. You may be surprised at how cheap it can be to get a room in a residence hall or shared flat. Or maybe you’ll live in a private home with a family. You can use the money you save on accommodations and other day-to-day expenses for side trips to interesting locales. Plus, the business owners in smaller towns usually are happy to offer special student discounts at their restaurants, bars, local attractions.

Small Town Cons 🥣👨‍💻👩‍🌾🐌

Why you shouldn't study abroad in a small town.

The down side of all those great student discounts is that there probably are not so many bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants, or organized activities like concerts or sporting events. If that’s the case, I suggest you simply find a favorite spot and become a regular loyal customer. There are bound to be special deals for you.

In general, many of the conveniences you have back at home are sure to be lacking, so you’ll have to test your ingenuity and either find creative solutions or adapt to what’s there. Where there’s a will there’s a way, so I know you can do it!,

What about internships and jobs? They definitely will be harder to find, especially if you don’t speak the language well. And if you do, there aren’t likely to be many options to choose from.

Realistically, there’s a good chance that most student jobs will be at your host university.

Of course, you’ll live in a more relaxed environment in a small or rural setting – less pollution, fewer crimes, a certain ease in your day-to-day lifestyle. Just be sure to do your research because small town living comes with a spectrum of options. On the one hand, it could mean a place where it’s difficult to find buses, taxis, trains, or even planes. In other places you can connect to urban city centers fairly easily. Do the research before you go and you’ll have a good feel for what to expect in the area you choose.

Here’s where I come out:

Katz’s Delicatessen

Since I’ve started conducting these interviews, I’ve realized that there are several mid size cities that I have never heard of before and they’re absolutely beautiful. You get most of the pros, and not so many of the cons.

For example, you have heard of Chicago and you have probably heard of Madison, WI. Let’s contrast this with Spain. You know Barcelona, you know Madrid, but have you ever heard of Oviedo? It’s got a population of 220,000, it’s close to the ocean, and absolutely gorgeous.

So if you’re torn, try and find another Oviedo. There are literally hundreds like it and I’m discovering them on almost a day basis through the podcast.

Studying abroad in a mid size city
Oviedo, Spain – @lumisansa

Ready. Set. Go! 

When thoughts of studying abroad start to excite you, begin perusing and researching the options that are out there. If you already have a particular part of the world in mind. Great! If not, it could take a while to zero in on your favorite(s) so start early.

Talking with an advisor in your school’s study abroad office can be a HUGE help. They are priceless resources who know how to guide you through the entire process and ensure that you find the perfect country for your international adventure.


How (and why) To Go Abroad After You Graduate With Corinne Kenny

Corinne Kinney in Grenada, Spain

“I’ve never had a student come back saying they regret studying abroad, but I have met with multiple students saying that they regret not studying abroad.”Corinne Kenny

Currently a graduate assistant at UW – Lacrosse, Corinne studied abroad in Granada, Spain; one of the many hidden, beautiful cities in Europe that you’ve never heard of, and she absolutely loved it.

How much ❤️ you ask?

After she returned from her trip and graduated, she actually returned to Spain to work in Madrid for 11 months. This is something I regret not doing myself…It’s the story everyone yearns for, but you rarely see play out. But in Corinne’s, case we actually get to listen to what transpired.

The first time around, Corinne studied abroad through a program called Sol Education Abroad, which focuses on Spanish language immersion. So if you’re serious about learning Spanish, I’d recommend checking them out.

If you’re reading this, I’m imploring you to listen to this one in its entirety as it may very well change the trajectory of your career, and ultimately your life.

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher


  • Teaching English in Spain while immersed in the Spanish language 👩‍🏫 [1:27]
  • Falling in love with Grenada right off the plane 🌅 [5:32]
  • Intensive language studies and volunteer teaching 🎓 [9:13]
  • Siestas after lunch breaks 😴[11:38]University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
  • Traveling around Europe and staying with family in Norway 🧭👨‍👨‍👧 [12:42]
  • Scrambling to fix a missed flight to Ireland 🛩 [13:51]
  • Fried eggplant with honey and longing for tapas 🥟 [15:51]
  • Working in Madrid through CIEE for 11 months 👩‍💻 [17:58]
  • Recommendations and final quotes 🙌 [22:50]

Corinne Kinney teaching Spain

5 Reasons To Take A Gap Year After College [Infogrpahic]

Corinne Kinney in London

Botswana Bound in Africa With Lauren Goetze

Lauren Goetze in Botswana

“It matters where you go, but if you’re on the bubble, just go somewhere.” — Lauren Goetze

I love when I interview someone and have to pull up the old maps to find out exactly where they went. That’s exactly what happened when I talked to Lauren about her trip to Botswana, which BTW is in the southern part of Africa.

This is now the third interview I’ve done with a student who studied abroad in this part of the continent, so they must be doing something right down there.

The dollar stretches a lot further in Africa, which means you can do a lot more with less. What you want to do is up to you if you decide to go, but Lauren’s interview is a pretty good example of what you can do.

You’ll also find out why it’s a bonus of if enjoy KFC. But that’s just me digressing. Seriously though, The University of Botswana soundsamazing and so do the stories that Lauren tells in her interview.

If you’ve come this far you now know where Botswana is. You can learn more about the country in the infographic below.

A BIG thank you to Lauren for taking the time from her busy schedule at Drake to do the interview. Give her website a look to see what she’s up to now.

“It always seems impossible until its done” — Nelson Mandela


  • Last-minute choice to study abroad in Botswana due to political unrest in South Africa 🇧🇼 [1:14]
  • Scholarly details and studying abroad through CIEE 🎓 [3:40]
  • Pushing through the uncertainty of living in an unknown country 🤷‍♀️ [6:15]
  • Waking up for early classes due to the heat of the day and dealing with classes taught in Setswana (Botswana’s native language) ⏰[7:34]
  • Camping in the desert and other travels to escape protests at the university ⛺️🏜 [10:21]
  • Getting drenched at Victoria Falls 🏞
  • Finding food as a gluten-free vegetarian in a land of beef and starch 🥦 [14:56]
  • KFCs everywhere and other infrastructure 🍗[16:12]
  • A new perspective from living abroad 👩‍🎓[17:08]
  • Recommendations and final quotes 🙌 [18:13]

6 Reasons To Study Abroad in Botswana [Infographic]

Brittney Rosiles & Mason Najima On Why USAC Is A Viable Option To Consider When Studying Abroad

Mason and Brittney USAC

“If you don’t see it for yourself, it doesn’t really happen.” – Mason Nagima 

In this dual interview Mason Najima and Brittney Rosiles tells us about their trips to Spain and India, respectively. They did it through an organization called USAC, which stands for University Studies Abroad Consortium. They had an amazing time and their interview reflects that.

As far as firsts go, they’re the first University of Nevada – Reno students we’ve had on the show.

If you want to hear about monkey attacks, missing an alarm, and getting out of your comfort zone this interview is for you, and in my opinion, encompasses what I wanted other students to hear when I decided to start the podcast.

Brittney was kind enough to send me some great pics below and is the current Study Abroadcast leader in terms of donated study abroad pictures 😋. I’m bringing this up because I wrote a blog post about how guys don’t take enough pictures on their study abroad trips.

I regret not documenting more of my trip, and gentlemen, I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did!

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.” – Anonymous [Britney]


at Christ University

Brittney with her study abroad group in India

The infamous monkeys!

Amber Palace, Jaipur

Masala Dosa, Chai

Brittney at the Taj Mahal



How Luke Bambrick Started His Summer Trip To London With A Bang

Luke Bambrick in London

“When I have kids, it is literally going to be mandatory for them to study abroad.”  — Luke Bambrick

“A once in a lifetime opportunity within a once in a lifetime opportunity” is how I’d describe the start of Luke Bambrick’s summer trip to London. Why? Because he was actually able to attend the Prince Harry and Meghan Markel’s wedding festivities.

Luke approaches the interview with optimism, it’s one of those shows that makes you just want to get up and go…

Luke teaches us about life in London, tracking down family in Europe (something that other Study Abroadcast guests have done as well), and exploring exploring other countries on the weekends.

“Life is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one chapter.” – St Augustine

“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage.” – Paulo Coelho



  • Choosing to study abroad in London [1:24]
  • Having travel costs covered by CIEE scholarships 💸 [3:44]
  • Crashing the royal wedding 👰 [5:46]
  • Academic life for a summer in London 🇬🇧 [10:08]
  • The ease of weekend travel around the EU 🚅 [13:20]
  • Exploring family roots in Belgium 🇧🇪 [14:32]
  • The perks of traveling solo 🧳 [16:04]
  • Eating local at outdoor markets 🥝 [18:18]
  • Kind people around the world 👫[20:36]
  • Drew Binsky, Hostelworld and advice 🙌 [23:00]
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Did you know Luke is also a filmmaker 🎥? His latest work is embedded below👇. Go Luke!

10 Tower Bridge Facts [Infographic]

Luke’s Short

The Hidden Benefits You Reap By Studying Abroad In A Big City

You’re off to college!

Ready to expand your horizons and begin a new adventure away from home. For many students – maybe you? – this is the first time you’ll be outside the comfort zone provided by your family and the familiar surroundings of your home town. You’ll meet new people, live in a dorm with a bunch of strangers, or in some other type of college housing, and you’ll get a first-hand look at diversity like you’ve never seen before.

When you decide to study abroad, your lifestyle will change again. And if you choose a big city as your destination, those changes can be pretty dramatic. You might feel a little scared, but the life experiences and opportunities that will be opened up to you make those fears melt away.Living In A Big City While You Study Abroad

This is your sneak peek at what it’s like to live in a major city and you’ll quickly discover there’s no better way to learn who you are and what you want in life. Sometimes you just have to take adventures to figure out where you belong.

So how do you prepare yourself for the new lifestyle you’re about to experience, in a city much larger than what you’re used to?

The majority of the students I’ve interviewed on The Study Abroadcast have completed their international studies in cities that are bigger than their home town or university town. With a little research and advance planning, you, like them, can be well prepared to adjust to this brand new way of living and viewing the world around you.

Once you’ve made the decision to study abroad you need to select your destination. Determine if you want a rural or urban setting and learn the pros and cons of each. Words and pictures can only tell part of the story of any city or campus so talk with your study abroad advisor about what you can expect.

It’s also helpful to talk with other students who have studied in the city you have in mind. Combine their advice and insights with the research you do online and you’ll find the place that’s right for you.

Life at an urban university is influenced by the city where it’s located.

The size of the city, its cultural and social life, even the geography of the region are all factors. Unlike being in a small town where the university is the focal point of daily life, you’ll find that activities at an urban university extend far beyond campus. 

In a big city, students have a much wider choice when it comes to things like entertainment, restaurants, art and cultural outlets, shopping, and housing options. Not to mention the ease of traveling around to visit other interesting locales. If these types of things are important to you, then big city living probably will be a great choice for your international experience.

On the other hand, the hustle of urban living brings with it things you may not be used to such as air pollution, traffic, and noise. So if being in a calmer, more comfortable and safe environment with fewer distractions is more your style, you’ll be better off moving to a smaller town.

The location of your school can have a major impact on your overall college experience, especially when it’s in a foreign country. Factor this in when choosing where you want to be.

6 Benefits of Studying Abroad In a Big City [Infographic]


Living in a big city means there’s always something interesting, fun, and exciting to do in your spare time. And you’re not limited to what’s available on campus. Maybe you’d enjoy exploring local museums, or trying an intriguing dish at a local restaurant. Metropolitan areas are renown for restaurants and eateries that accommodate all tastes and budgets. You won’t have a hard time finding tasty options even on a limited student budget.

Or maybe you’d like to take in a play, music concert, or sporting event, or spend time with new friends at your favorite coffee shop or pub. How about hitting the unique shops and stores to discover special mementos to bring back home for family, friends – and yourself.

Between classes, lectures, and lab sessions, studying abroad gives you a lot of time to absorb your new environment. Use that time to mingle and meet new people, barter at a local market, or visit an iconic landmark. It’s particularly easy to do these in a big city where you can discover something new and interesting around every corner. Remember, you’re thousands of miles from home in a place you’ve never been before, so take advantage of this exciting adventure you’re on and grab every opportunity to explore and learn.


Public Transportation in Large Cities
This is just the U.S.*

Major cities have awesome public transportation systems that make it super easy to get around. Hop on a bus, subway, above-ground metro, or train to get just about anywhere you want to be in and around town. And do it efficiently and cheaply. With public transit, any type of commute is a breeze. If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s just as easy to escape to a quieter setting and enjoy beautiful and natural surroundings. Or to visit another exciting locale or attraction.

When studying abroad, most students want to soak up as much local culture as they can. Chances are that’s what you’ll want to do. After all, who knows when, if ever, you’ll have this opportunity again. Living in a large city makes it easy to plan the extra adventures that make special memories happen. That was the case for me.

While I was a study abroad student in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I took the subway and the bus every day and it prepared me for life in Los Angeles without a car after graduation. I wouldn’t have been as prepared as I was had I not studied abroad. 


Specialty food markets, supermarkets, coffee shops with that special blend you loved back home, clothing stores, book stores – as a city dweller, just about about any product and service you need will be at your fingertips, often right in your neighborhood. Conversely, if you choose rural living you may need to forego the conveniences you’re used to. They simply won’t be available so you’ll have to either adapt to what is there or do without.

Previous Interviewee Lacy Freward


Big cities are melting pots of cultures. As a student in an urban setting, you will be exposed to people from a diverse assortment of cultures and ethnic backgrounds, not only at your university but among the general population. What a great way to learn first-hand about the world. And what a boost for a future career anyplace around the globe – international experience is always looked on favorably by employers.

Living in an urban setting in a foreign country has one more advantage. As you increase your knowledge about the cultures surrounding you, you also will develop the cultural sensitivity that comes with being in a foreign environment. In the process you’ll begin to see your own culture through fresh eyes and develop your own personal points of view.

Whether in class, at work or at play around town, you’ll acquire a new global mind-set that will prove to be invaluable many times over throughout your life, both personally and professionally.


If you’re considering an internship or working at a job related to your field of study, an urban setting will provide greater opportunities and easier access to both. It also will increase your chances to make connections and network with people who can open career doors after you graduate that otherwise would be difficult or even impossible to open on your own. And, unlike in a small town setting, language is not likely to be a problem.

Jobs and internships in small cities are harder to come by and the available options typically aren’t too great. You may only end up with a student job on your university campus.


This is the ultimate goal of studying abroad.

Yes, you’ve signed up for this international program to further your academic studies in a new and challenging way. But at the same time, you’re leaping into the unknown, opening your mind to new experiences, fending for yourself, and handling unforeseen situations. You’re storing up important life experiences, learning what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at.

It’s not easy being independent, but gaining self-reliance sure feels great. The end product of this amazing journey is a more confident, independent and self-sufficient you. Living in a big city as part of your personal study abroad experience is an unbeatable way to learn about yourself and grow. I can’t think of anything better, can you?

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Studies

Students, parents, advisors, professors – everyone agrees that there are a million great reasons to study abroad. University life in a major city can be especially exciting and offer you countless special ways to experience a new culture. Just remember that having all these opportunities within easy reach can distract you from your studies.

So if you’re thinking of transitioning to a big city for your study abroad experience, make sure you have the discipline to keep on track with your educational goals. If you do, then go for it!

Meghan Haddy Talks Athens, Greece in This Study Abroadcast First

“It will put you out of your comfort zone, and that might be hard, but it will definitely be worth it.”Meghan Haddy

Meghan Haddy is the first student on the show who studied abroad in Greece. I’m surprised more people don’t study abroad here given the climate, exchange rate, and available cuisine.

In my opinion, Greece is the world’s best kept secret as far as a potential study abroad destination goes.

With Athens as her home base, Meghan was able to visit several other Islands and countries in between her classes at The American College of Greece.

Traveling isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always comfortable.  Sometimes it hurts, even breaks your heart. That’s OK. The journey changes you, it should change you.  It leaves a mark on your memory, your conscience, on your heart and your body, and you take something with you, and hopefully you leave something good behind.

  Anthony Bourdain


  • Reasons for choosing Greece 🇬🇷 [1:35] Meghan Haddy Athens
  • Process for studying abroad and receiving financial aid 💸 [2:50]
  • Facing the nervousness of living in a different country 🛫 [4:22]
  • Daily life and living situation while attending school in Athens 🏘 [6:34]
  • Visiting the Greek Islands and other European countries 🏝 [11:15]
  • Befriending a cute dog while hiking in Nafplio 🐕 [12:50]
  • Fries in gyros and other Greek cuisine 🥙 [15:24]
  • Adjusting to the Greek sleep schedule and other cultural shifts 🛌 [17:26]
  • How living in different countries can change you [20:52]
  • Why Meghan decided to attend UNI 🎓 [22:49]
  • Media recommendations and final thoughts [24:38]

10 Reasons To Study Abroad in Greece [Infographic]

Video of The Adorable Dog From Her Hike 

Studying Abroad in Namibia With Michelle Andersen

“If I want to go and have this experience, or if I want to go and have this meaningful conversation, then what’s stopping me besides myself?” — Michelle Andersen


Michelle Andersen (First name IG, last name FB)  was one of the most well spoken guests I’ve had on the show to date. She went on a journey to the southern part of Africa and was kind enough to take us along for the ride here, today.

Sometimes we get people who have never been out of the country, or even on a plane for that matter. Sometimes we get globe trotters, and that is the category that Michelle falls under. She’s even got her own travel blog already which I highly recommend you give a once over. If anything, it’ll inspire you to start one of your own before you embark your very own ‘once in a life time.’

In this interview you’ll get a taste of what it was like to live in Namibia and explore southern Africa, courtesy of Michelle.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen


  • Reasons for choosing to study in Namibia 🌍 [1:26]
  • Looking into financial aid for studying abroad 💸 [4:24]
  • Touring and learning the history of Johannesburg and Cape Town 🏯 [6:08]
  • Communal living and experiential learning in Namibia 👩‍💻 [12:36]
  • Social work curriculum and interests 📋 [17:10]
  • Seeing roadside rhinos in Etosha National Park 🏞 [19:20]
  • Being accosted by a baboon in Zambia 🙊 [24:10]
  • Eating pap, antelope, and fat cakes 🥘 [26:45]
  • Importance of traveling the world 🛤 [29:41]
  • Michelle’s recommendations and advice 🙌 [31:33]

Michelle’s House In Namibia [Infographic]