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?