Top 10 Destinations for that Study-Abroad Year You Never Had … or Would Love to Do Again

Have you ever imagined packing a bag and a few favorite books and heading to another country for a year? Where would you go? Would you try (finally!) to gain fluency in another language, or would you prefer an English-speaking country? Would you opt for the cosmopolitan bustle of a big city, with restaurants spilling out onto sidewalks and world-class theaters and museums? Or would you prefer a quiet village in a foreign land where you could ease into a slower pace of life, watch the changing light on the hills, shop at the local market, write or paint, and hear yourself think?

We asked Road Scholars “If you could live for a year anywhere in the world besides the United States, where would you live and why?” and received 894 responses naming nearly 60 countries around the world. Here are they top 10 places Road Scholars said they would pick to live for a year, and some of the reasons they gave.

Take a look at the list and the reasons Road Scholar gave for their choice. Then, tell us where you would like to live for a year—and why.

1 | Italy   Road Scholars would live in Tuscany, Rome or Sicily to get in touch with their roots and heritage and enjoy the rhythm of everyday life in a new place. They’re eager to soak up world treasures but also dream of shopping each morning for food at neighborhood markets. Some prefer larger cities, while others would spend a year in a small town to immerse themselves in the language, art, music, agriculture and folklore of the region while being “reborn” to a different outlook on the world.

  

2 | Great Britain   Many mentioned London for the history and theater, but others prefer a small village or even living along a small river or canal so they can travel by bicycle or barge to other places along the water. Some like England as a headquarters for travel across Europe, but also appealing is staying put for a slower pace of life with fewer distractions and more interaction with other people. To top it off, they speak English and have a great transportation system, providing a break from dependence on a car. Remote spots like the Orkney Islands offer slow living yet are full of history and places to visit and Scotland offers has out-of-the-way villages where you can take long walks on the heath.

3 | France   Provence has a magnetic draw, because life there is slower and you can see the lavender in bloom and eat cheese and pastries and drink white wine, as does Paris because it has so much culture and history and it’s the most beautiful city in the world. Many dream of becoming become fluent in French, and value the location as a home base to travel the rest of Europe.

4 | New Zealand or Australia   Kiwis are nice, very low key and “speak English (sort of)” says our Road Scholar panel. The rugged mountains are intriguing and there are so many different natural environments and outdoor recreational opportunities. Christchurch drew attention because it has a cosmopolitan aura in a small-town environment where people are outstandingly helpful. New Zealand is also a jumping-off point for trips to Asia, Australia, Fiji and Antarctica. Road Scholars view Australia as a study in contrasts—highly cultivated in the cities and uniquely diverse in its wildlife with an interesting past and an exciting future. Sydney has the feel of San Francisco, the climate of Key West, and “prawns the size of your fist,” while Melbourne is spacious, lively, multicultural, and close to the water and the hills.

5 | Ireland   Beautiful Ireland “tugs at my heart” as a place to spend a year abroad, because the people are friendly and nice and it’s rich in history and culture. Some cite their heritage and a chance to do family history studies, while one had a simpler reason: “I like Guinness stout!”

6 | Spain   Spain is a chosen destination because of its beautiful scenery and history with a variety of terrain and because it is not as commercialized as other parts of Europe. Barcelona and Seville receive special mention, while the countryside has its fans, including one who would like to raise sheep and learn to cook local dishes, while many see an opportunity to improve their Spanish.

7 | Costa Rica   It’s a small country that offers a huge variety of scenery, fauna and flora. Costa Ricans “know what matters … and what really doesn’t” and are very aware of their precious resources and avid about protecting them.

8 | Germany   In southeastern Bavaria the word ‘stress’ doesn’t exist and the food is extraordinary. Some cite ancestral roots and a liking for German beer. The people, culture, and food are wonderful, and you can easily travel to many parts of eastern and western Europe by rail.

9 | Israel   It’s the most incredible country in the world with fabulous food, and several panelists cited the attraction of becoming immersed in the culture of their heritage.

10 | Japan   Road Scholars are drawn to a rich and varied culture with exceptional artists, a well-run country with peaceful gardens and water features.