Non-Traditional Study Abroad Programs

by Megan Byrd

Let’s face it. Some of us were not made to fit the mold. No matter how hard we try, when others are walking the straight and narrow, we’re headed down the road less traveled. We were born to do things off the beaten path that offer just a little more flavor and pizzazz. So it’s no surprise that while most study abroad students flock to the famous cities of the world, we’re looking to the left and the right, trying to find an alternative solution to the traditional.

If you’re one of these types of people and are in need of a few ideas of a unique place to do your study abroad experience, you’re in luck. Below we’ve compiled some of the best non-traditional study abroad programs out there. One of them is sure to scratch your itch for an adventurous, fun time (while still meeting your needs for an educational opportunity!).

  • University of Costa Rica Rainforest Adventure: Maybe you’ve always been a biology nut or just have a thing for the outdoors, either way this rainforest adventure is sure to keep you knee-deep in hands-on activity. Learn about tropical ecology and conservation biology, while doing a great deal of fieldwork. This study abroad program is all about learning to save the rainforest! In the meantime, you’ll have a chance to brush up on your Spanish – because in addition to the biology component, you will live with a home-stay family and take a Spanish course to help you effectively communicate in your new environment.


  • Intern Abroad: Have a hankering to get ahead on your business resume? Perhaps you’d like to see what it’s like working in another country’s professional environment. If this sounds like you, interning abroad is a unique way to get credits without going to class! There are thousands of opportunities all over the world to get a piece of the action. To get started, the study abroad website has a pretty in-depth, searchable database of programs. Just list the country you want, the type of internship you want, and it’s all there served to you on a silver platter.


  • Semester at Sea: Now quite a renowned program, Semester at Sea is for the vagabond in all of us. If you can’t imagine committing yourself to one place, hop on board and see where the boat takes you. Visit ports such as Canada, Japan, Brazil, Kenya, and Vietnam. All of this while taking courses you need to graduate!


  • Central European Education Cultural Exchange: Prague, Budapest, Krakow. Do these cities get your pulse beating? CEECE offers a unique way to help you study in any or all of these fascinating cities. With sessions offered in Spring, Winter, Summer, and Fall, CEECE makes it easy for you to do any combination you want without the complication of having to register with various study abroad programs.


  • The Aegean Center for Fine Arts: If you’re the creative type and want to find a place to go abroad and be inspired, the Aegean Center for Fine Arts could easily be your solution. With locations in Greece and Italy, the Center offers courses in painting, drawing, photography, literature, creative writing, singing, drawing, printmaking, and art history. Finding a subject for inspiration will hardly be difficult in such beautiful surroundings.


  • The Galápagos Islands: If you’re really looking for a unique adventure, head over to the Galápagos Islands. Some of the most beautiful islands in the world, the Galápagos are all about conserving the natural habitat. There are a good number of programs out there, but most will focus on marine life, conservation, evolutionary biology, and human ecology. Programs at the Islands will most definitely allow you to get your hands dirty and working to provide you with the most hands-on experience possible.

original photos – intern photo by Angels Gate and Galapagos Islands photo by timheyer