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5 Interesting Study Abroad Destinations

Study abroad has become a staple of the college experience, with England, Italy, Spain, France and Australia being some of the most popular destinations for U.S. students. But what if you want to study off the beaten path? Pick one of these cities, and you're sure to get a less-than-typical study abroad experience.

1. McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Although there are currently no study abroad programs in space, Antarctica's programs come pretty close. Biology students can stay at the McMurdo Station, a U.S. run station on Ross Island. Topics of study include global warming and climate. If you choose to go, remember this one fact about one of the world's most remote regions: in Antarctica, no one can hear you scream.

2. Bamako, Mali


If helping a country with some of the lowest health and development indicators and one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world sounds like your kind of thing, then you might be interested in Mali. SIT Study Abroad offers a "Health, Gender, and Community Empowerment" program that delivers students to the capital city, Bamako. You might want to brush up on your Bambara before you go, though French is the country's official language. [Image via Wikimedia Commons user Guaka]

3. Irkutsk, Russia

When I was little, I played a lot of Risk. In addition to learning about military strategy, I learned where Irkutsk is. It's in Russia. Siberia, to be exact. Siberia as in frozen, hostile, let's-send-prisoners-of-war-there Siberia. If you're interested in Siberian tigers, vodka, and Russians, Irkutsk might be the place for you. More officially, study abroad programs in Irkutsk specialize in Russian history and industrialization. Be sure to pick up one of those furry hats, though, as winter temperatures are regularly in the negatives.

4. Saint-Louis, Senegal

You could go to France to learn French. Or you could go to Senegal. Although no one really knows where the name Senegal comes from, the country isn't too hard to find. Located on the Western end of Africa, Senegal is known for its distinct musical heritage. Although Australia is a much more popular destination, Senegal is similarly focused on enjoying the moment and forgetting life's worries. Essentially, then, Senegal is like a French African Australia with fewer kangaroos where the cultural instrument is the tama instead of the didgeridoo.

5. Malé, The Maldives

In addition to having the coolest flag in the world, the Maldives is also the lowest country in the world. Since the '70s, the invention of the picture-a-day calendar showcasing the country has caused a substantial increase in tourism (well, that and the country's push for tourism). In 1972, there were two resorts on the 26 atolls that make up the country. In 2007, there were 92 resorts. Marine life, crystal clear water, and blue skies make the Maldives popular for both tourists and biology students alike.[Image via Wikimedia Commons user Shahee Ilyas]
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Did you study abroad? If you could go back and design your own program, where would you go, and what would you study?

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Design
China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
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People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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architecture
One of Gaudí's Most Famous Homes Opens to the Public for the First Time
Pol Viladoms

Visiting buildings designed by iconic Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí is on the to-do list of nearly every tourist passing through Barcelona, Spain, but there's always been one important design that visitors could only view from the outside. Constructed between 1883 and 1885, Casa Vicens was the first major work in Gaudí's influential career, but it has been under private ownership for its entire existence. Now, for the first time, visitors have the chance to see inside the colorful building. The house opened as a museum on November 16, as The Art Newspaper reports.

Gaudí helped spark the Catalan modernism movement with his opulent spaces and structures like Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia. You can see plenty of his architecture around Barcelona, but the eccentric Casa Vicens is regarded as his first masterpiece, famous for its white-and-green tiles and cast-iron gate. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Casa Vicens is a treasured part of the city's landscape, yet it has never been open to the public.

Then, in 2014 the private Spanish bank MoraBanc bought the property with the intention of opening it up to visitors. The public is finally welcome to take a look inside following a $5.3 million renovation. To restore the 15 rooms to their 19th-century glory, designers referred to historical archives and testimonies from the descendants of former residents, making sure the house looked as much like Gaudí's original work as possible. As you can see in the photos below, the restored interiors are just as vibrant as the walls outside, with geometric designs and nature motifs incorporated throughout.

In addition to the stunning architecture, museum guests will find furniture designed by Gaudí, audio-visual materials tracing the history of the house and its architect, oil paintings by the 19th-century Catalan artist Francesc Torrescassana i Sallarés, and a rotating exhibition. Casa Vicens is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. General admission costs about $19 (€16).

An empty room in the interior of Casa Vicens

Interior of house with a fountain and arched ceilings

One of the house's blue-and-white tiled bathrooms

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

All images courtesy of Pol Viladoms.

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