There is no such thing as the “perfect” destination – it’s what you make of it that counts!
How do you find the perfect study abroad destination for yourself? This can be a hard question to answer. And that’s no wonder – the possibilities are almost endless today.
If you are reading this article, you are probably at least somewhat interested in studying in an Asian country. Of course, that still leaves you with a continent of roughly 45 000 000 square kilometers, somewhere around 50 countries and a multitude of different cultures. Not so helpful, right?
In order to help you out of this dilemma, we have put together some questions to ask yourself when choosing your study abroad destination in Asia (and in case you need more convincing: there are countless good reasons for studying in Asia):
1. Language barrier or no language barrier?
When you study abroad, you will inevitably spend a good amount of time communicating in a foreign language (unless you only surround yourself with students from your home country…don’t be that guy). So if you’ve been wanting to learn a new language, this is a great chance!
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For example, with China set to become the world’s most powerful economy in the next decades, even just basic knowledge of the Chinese language(s) can give you a considerable competitive advantage in the job market! On the other side, if you prefer going to a place without a substantial language barrier, or if your goal is to improve your English, a country like Malaysia would be a good choice for you.
2. How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go?
Driving on the other side of the road, strange customs, different eating habits…spoiler alert: You will probably experience some degree of culture shock either way. But this one essentially means: How much of a contrast to your home country are you prepared to handle during your semester abroad? Are you actively trying to expose yourself to a completely different culture or do you prefer to stay in an environment that’s not too far from what you’re used to? Especially if you haven’t travelled too much before, it’s totally fine to start out small! This can be a good way to expand your comfort zone.
3. What kind of environment do you want to live in?
Depending on the country and place you choose, your study abroad experience will be very different in terms of navigating daily life: If you don’t want to handle busy mega cities, a paradise island like Phuket, Bali or its quieter neighbor Lombok might be a great choice for you. On the other hand, if the idea of having to drive a scooter every day scares you or if you don’t want to miss the conveniences of city living, like for example public transportation, you might be better off in a city like Kuala Lumpur or Taipei.
4. How do you want to spend your free time?
This one is somewhat related to the previous aspect – your living environment. You (hopefully) won’t be busy with your studies around the clock during your semester, so it’s a good idea to think about what you want to do in your free time. Do you want to hang out at the beach after your classes? Maybe you want to learn how to surf? Explore ancient cultures? Or maybe great shopping possibilities are important to you. Whatever your hobby is, do some research on where you can best pursue it (as an example – if you are into e-sports, Korea might just be the perfect destination for you)!
5. How big is your budget?
Of course, your academic and personal interest should be the number one criteria for choosing your study abroad destination, but let’s keep it real: Money is one of the biggest issues for many students, especially when it comes to travelling. So if your budget is on the tighter side, South East Asia is a fantastic choice for you: While the average cost of living in Asia is generally already lower than in Europe, North America or Australia, countries like Malaysia or Indonesia are particularly affordable. That way, you can live comfortably on your student budget – and if you spend mindfully, you will still have enough money left at the end for travelling. Win-win!
So let’s take it back to our question: How do you find the best destination for your semester abroad?
Well: Studying abroad is not just about studying, it’s a unique opportunity to grow as a person, form lifelong friendships and make unforgettable memories. Surveys among our students have confirmed this: Choosing a destination is typically about discovering cultures and meeting people first, while academic matters and career-related aspects come second.
Picking a destination is a very individual and personal choice, so think about YOUR goals and YOUR priorities for your semester abroad. Make a list if you need to. Ask yourself the questions above. Follow your gut. And in the end, let’s put it that way: There is no such thing as the “perfect” destination – it’s what you make of it that counts!
Find out more about our different study abroad destinations:
This text was written by our Study Abroad Assistant Alex!