The world is covered in vibrant cities rich in history and overflowing with culture. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to experience these cultures and expand your worldview. From the birthplace of famous writers to adrenaline junkie havens, here’s a list of the top five places to study abroad:
Prague, Czech Republic
The city is over 1,100 years old. In Prague’s historic center, various architectural styles–such as medieval, gothic, and baroque–can be seen. The historic center was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1992, and Old Town Square is one of the center’s most popular destinations. The square has a mix of gothic and baroque architecture and features the medieval Astronomical Clock, the third oldest in the world. Charles Bridge, an example of gothic architecture, is the city’s defining landmark. The 60- year old bridge crosses the Vlata River and is lined with 30 baroque statues.
The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy with President Václav Klaus serving as head of state and Prime Minister Petr Necas as head of government.
Student visas are only granted for schools/programs accredited by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. If the program isn’t accredited, students must apply for a long-term visa. Student visas can last anywhere from 91 days to 6 months while long-term visas only allow a stay of 90 days. Applications cost 2,500 CZK. Applications for student visas take up to 60 days to process, and applications for long-term visas can take up to 90 days.
Cape Town, South Africa
Founded in 1652, the legislative capital of South Africa has blossomed into a top tourist destination known for its multiculturalism and natural beauty. Dominating the city’s backdrop is Table Mountain, the flat-topped mountain featured on Cape Town’s flag that has distinctive flora and breathtaking views of the Mother City. The city is also home to Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site famously known as the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years.
South Africa is a republic with elements of presidential and parliamentary systems currently led by President Jacob Zuma.
Student visas cost $72 to process and can take anywhere from 5 to 10 business days. Applications can only be submitted after students have received an offer to study from a school within the country. Citizens of certain countries are exempt from having to obtain a visa to travel to South Africa, click here to see a list.
Auckland, New Zealand
The largest city in New Zealand is also its most multicultural. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population in the world, and Māori culture remains an important part of the city’s identity. The Auckland War Memorial Museum features the country’s largest collection of Māori treasures as well as other Polynesian artifacts. In addition to military history, the museum covers, Auckland, New Zealand, and natural history. The Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding tower in the Southern Hemisphere, is an iconic part of the city’s skyline and offers walking tours – on the tower’s outside ring!
New Zealand is parliamentary democracy and is part of the Commonwealth, meaning that Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of New Zealand and its head of state. There, the Governor General Sir Jerry Materparae represents her. Prime Minister John Key is the head of government.
Student visas cost $225 unless they are done online via an education provider. Applicants must obtain an offer from an institution before they can apply. Applications take up to 25 days to process. Participants in approved programs lasting three months or less do not require visas.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jorge Luis Borges’s birthplace is well known as the origin of tango and is home to Teatro Colon, a stunning neoclassical opera house that is one of the world’s premier concert halls. Along with a rich culture, Buenos Aires has a very politically charged history, as exemplified by the Plaza de Mayo. Plaza de Mayo sits in front of the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace.
Buenos Aires is the seat of Argentina’s federal government, a representative democracy currently led by two-term President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Americans must pay a $160 reciprocity fee prior to entry via Provincia Pagos. Argentina doesn’t require visas for programs lasting up to 90 days, but for longer programs, students must submit an application to change their status to the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones within 30 days of entering the country.
The capital of the People’s Republic of China is the embodiment of the country’s rapid growth and illustrious history. The Forbidden City, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an imperial palace compound that was the nation’s center of power from 1416-1911, during which it was completely off limits to the public. Nearly 10,000 rooms exist in the compound, with remarkable art and furniture in each one. Directly south of the city is Tiananmen Square, the massive public square with the looming portrait of Mao Zedong where Mao declared the birth of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 and where, in 1989, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army violently ended protests against the government.
Beijing is the seat of the PRC’s ruling Communist Party and falls under the party’s jurisdiction. The current head of state is President Hu Jintao and the Vice President Xi Jinping. The current head of government is Premier Wen Jiabao.
Student visas are issued for programs lasting longer than six months, and business visas are issued for programs under six months. Student visa applicants must submit admission letters from an accredited institution as well as a Foreign Student Visa Application Form (JW201 or JW202), which the school will provide; business visa applicants must only submit the letter from the school. Both visas cost $130 and take four business days to process.
Rebecca Lindegren is the community manager for American University’s School of International Service’s Online Masters in International Relations as well as a contributor for International Relations Online. In addition to higher education, she is also passionate about cooking, cycling and sustainable development.
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