College is a time of self-discovery and exploration, and nothing quite ticks off that latter category like studying abroad. Many American college students jump at the chance to see another country while completing their higher education, and of the countries they are most likely to visit, all are in Europe. The ease with which students can travel to other nearby destinations, alongside their accommodations to English speakers and long-standing romanticism surrounding many of these countries, explains their popularity. The following are the top five most popular destinations to study abroad.


Credit: buejayphoto / iStock

The powerhouse of the European Union is also one of the most popular destinations for international students. Of all students studying abroad, 4 percent attend universities in Germany. The country houses several world-renowned institutions of higher learning and offers many courses in English, making it a popular choice for American students. As of 2016, the country also passed a law to waive normal tuition fees for international students in lieu of nominal administrative fees totaling only a few hundred euros per semester – a far cry from American tuition fees. Add all of that to the rumpus of Oktoberfest, and it’s no wonder that so many Americans choose Germany as the locale of their semester(s) abroad.


Credit: encrier / iStock

With a world-famous reputation for art, history, and fine cuisine, it comes as no surprise that many young Americans jump at the chance to study in France. Six percent of all students studying abroad attend their classes in France. In addition to its long history of art, food and fashion, France also has an extensive number of universities—around 100. In other words, there are plenty of choices for students looking to visit La République. The world-renowned reputation of the country draws in countless students looking to add the backdrop of France to their college of experience.


Credit: KavalenkavaVolha / iStock

Siestas in the afternoon and fiestas in the evening more or less sum up the dream of a college experience for countless students, and in these regards, Spain is more than accommodating. Nine percent of international students attend universities in Spain. With the chance to work on a valuable American second language, enjoy the year-long procession of different festivals, and the many beaches of Spain, countless students flock to the nation to continue their studies.


Credit: RudyBalasko / iStock

Art, history, and food are a recurring theme in this list, and Italy delivers in all three of these categories. There is nothing sufficient to scare off students with wanderlust as 11 percent of students choose Italy for their destination to study abroad. Many college programs in Italy allow for students to complete their courses in mostly English, though students will inevitably wish to brush up on their Italian if they intend to venture out to the major cities to take in a breath of the local culture.

United Kingdom

Credit: jenifoto / iStock

Our friends on the other side of the pond are no stranger to young Americans looking to continue their studies. With English as the national language, the U.K. offers an easy option for American students eager to see the world but are less than fluent in a second language. However, the ease stops there, as English university programs are notoriously challenging. Nonetheless, students tend to adapt to the grading curve and cost of living, as student satisfaction rates in the U.K. are ranked at 90 percent. With that in mind, many students jump at the chance to add “a semester at Cambridge” to their CV—and maybe enjoy a pint with some bangers and mash.