Why study at universities abroad? Aside from the fact that taking time to study at universities abroad during your educational career is a great way to see the world and gain new perspectives, it is an incredible way to broaden your horizons in professional development as well. These oft-overlooked study abroad universities offer students the chance to learn about new cultures, adopt another language, and make international friendships and relationships that can last a lifetime.

Take the Road Less Traveled with One of these 5 Amazing Study Abroad Universities

While all of the “typical” and “popular” study abroad universities are great and safe choices, consider study abroad universities that you probably have never heard of before. Sometimes, the road less traveled (or the university less known) is the greatest adventure just waiting to be had. There are so many universities abroad to be discovered, but these five will leave study abroad-ers fantasizing about their own possibility of studying abroad. Blaze your own trail and dare to try something new! Here are the best universities to study abroad before they were cool.

The best study abroad universities in oft-overlooked destinations

1. Stellenbosch University in South Africa

Main building on Stellenbosch University in South Africa
Visit the Ou Hoofgebou (the main building) when you study abroad at Stellenbosch University

While the area has a less-than-sparkling history in the Apartheid era, this study abroad university is dedicated to the “new” South Africa. It offers a wide range of disciplines, including some amazing international student courses on Nelson Mandela (the anti-apartheid ex-president of South Africa), the Apartheid conflict itself, and Xhosa, one of the official languages of South Africa. This wine country is as beautiful as it gets, the campus is stunning with tree-lined streets, and sidewalk cafés surround the school.

Three Programs to Help You Study Abroad at Stellenbosch University:

2. Mahidol University in Thailand

Lake at Mahidol University in Thailand
Take a break from your studies and relax lakeside at Mahidol University – Photo Credit: panoramio

Mahidol, pronounced “ma-he-don,” is another study abroad university that is not entirely unknown to the study abroad catalogs. Several larger study abroad providers send students there, but again, the numbers are not overwhelming. The majority of students are Thai studying in English. Surrounded by local students, this gives international students a unique opportunity to study the Thai language and culture while still taking general education courses in English. The university campus may not be as picturesque as some of the others on this list, but the cultural connection to Thai students is a tradeoff well worth it.

Three Programs to Help You Study Abroad at Mahidol University:

3. Edge Hill University in the North of England

Edge Hill University building
Edge Hill University boasts awesome architecture on its campus! – Photo Credit: www.edgehill.ac.uk

Have you ever heard of Ormskirk, England? The sleepy market town is 30 minutes north of Liverpool. It’s the one with the church with both a steeple and a tower. Ormskirk is one of those places where most people haven’t heard of it until they end up there. The town is quaint and charming, and it’s close enough to the city nightlife and activities in both Manchester and Liverpool, so you’ll really get the best of both worlds.

The university should be a model to all study abroad universities around the world. Everything is state-of-the-art, and the university offers cutting-edge academic programs, an amazing sports complex, a TV studio and theater departments with hands-on opportunities, and was named the most wired university in the U.K. Yes, it’s true, you are a long way from London and Oxford, but you are in the heart of a very British student experience!

Three Programs to Help You Study Abroad at Edge Hill University:

4. University of the Philippines – Diliman

Looking out from the University of the Philippines Diliman at sunset
Embrace meaningful travel as you study abroad at the University of the Philippines – Diliman. Photo Credit: Lonely Travelogue

University of the Philippines (UP) is regularly named one of the best academic study abroad universities in Asia. UP-Diliman is the flagship campus of the national university system. Take warning, as this location is not for the faint of heart (but what true adventurer isn’t up for somewhat of a challenge!). Manila can sometimes be a tricky place to visit, as you are surrounded by challenges, such as the bureaucracy of the university, living in a big metropolis, and air pollution. However, the benefits certainly outweigh the challenges on this one.

All classes are taught in English with a course catalog that rivals the University of Michigan or the University of Texas-Austin. This study abroad university resides in a country made up of green mountains, thriving coral reefs, and warm beaches. Most importantly, the people will be the most rewarding part of your study abroad experience in the Philippines. Filipinos are generous, open, and friendly beyond expectations.

Two Programs to Help You Study Abroad at the University of the Philippines:

5. Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador

Courtyard picture from the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador
Studying is easy when you’re in a place like Quito, Ecuador! Photo Credit: Have Fun, Will Travel – WordPress.com

There are two Ecuadors; there is the Amazonian, thick-jungle of Ecuador that covers much of the country, and then there is the Ecuador where remnants of the Incas can be seen every single day. Quito is part of the latter. A milder climate surrounded by hills and indigenous communities, Quito reminds travelers of the ancient cities of Cusco or Antigua.

The study abroad university itself offers many classes in English and is a lovely campus worthy of a postcard photo. Students sit alongside the lake or lounge in one of the Spanish colonial-esque plazas on campus between classes. The university has satellite options in the Galapagos and the Amazon for the serious biology or ecology student. If you are considering South America for a semester, you might be leaning towards Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile, but don’t overlook this jewel of a campus.

Three Programs to Help You Study Abroad at the University of San Francisco in Quito:

Pick from programs at top study abroad universities—that aren’t over-rated

While this is a short list of just five possible study abroad universities, let it be major inspiration to get crackin’ on some research, and dig deep to find the perfect study abroad university to fit your needs. Sift through programs and universities abroad, and read plenty of reviews from fellow travelers and students. As soon as you put the time and effort in, you are bound to stumble on a gorgeous universities with study abroad programs that you would have otherwise never heard of before. Consider all options. Be brave, be bold, be excited, and be different. You never know what adventure is waiting for you! 

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