There is no such thing as the “perfect” destination – it’s what you make of it that counts!
How do you find the perfect study abroad destination for yourself? This can be a hard question to answer. And it’s no wonder – the possibilities are almost endless today.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least somewhat interested in studying abroad in Asia. Of course, that still leaves you with a continent of roughly 45 000 000 square kilometers, somewhere around 50 countries and a multitude of different cultures. Not so helpful, right?
To help you out of this dilemma, we’ve put together some questions – 5 in total – to ask yourself when choosing your ideal study abroad destination in Asia. At the end of this post you’ll also find a link to a quiz that helps you find that right destination just for you.
1. Language barrier or no language barrier?
When you study abroad, you will inevitably spend a good amount of time communicating in a foreign language (unless you only surround yourself with students from your home country…don’t be that person). So if you’ve been wanting to learn a new language, this is a great chance!
Read more: 5 Things To Do in Shanghai
For example, with China set to become the world’s most powerful economy in the next decades, even just basic knowledge of the Chinese language(s) can give you a considerable competitive advantage in the job market. On the other hand, if you prefer going to a place without facing a substantial language barrier or you want to improve your English, a country like Malaysia is a good choice for you.
2. How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go?
Driving on the other side of the road, strange customs, different eating habits…spoiler alert: You will probably experience some degree of culture shock. Here’s what you need to consider: How much of a contrast to your home country are you prepared to handle during your semester abroad? Are you actively trying to expose yourself to a different culture or do you prefer to stay in an environment that’s not too unfamiliar? Especially if you haven’t traveled too much before, it’s totally fine to start out small! This is a good way to expand your comfort zone.
3. What kind of environment do you want to live in?
Depending on the country and place you choose, your study abroad experience will be very different in terms of navigating daily life: If you don’t want to handle busy mega cities, a paradise island like Phuket or Bali might be a great choice for you. On the other hand, if the idea of having to drive a scooter every day scares you or you don’t want to miss the conveniences of city living like public transportation, for example, you might be better off in a city like Kuala Lumpur or Taipei.
Read more: 5 Top Reasons to Study in Taiwan
4. How do you want to spend your free time?
This one is somewhat related to the previous point – your living environment. Hopefully you won’t be busy with your studies around the clock during your time abroad, so it’s a good idea to think about what you want to do in your free time.
Do you want to hang out at the beach after your classes? Maybe you want to learn how to surf? Explore ancient cultures? Or maybe great shopping possibilities are important to you. Whatever your hobby is, do some research on where you can best pursue it. As an example – if you are into e-sports, Korea might just be the perfect destination for you!
5. How big is your budget?
Of course, your academic and personal interests should be the number one criteria for choosing your study abroad destination, but let’s keep it real: Money is one of the biggest issues for many students, especially when it comes to traveling. So if your budget is on the tighter side, South East Asia is a fantastic choice for you: While the average cost of living in Asia is generally already lower than in Europe, North America or Australia, countries like Malaysia or Indonesia are particularly affordable. That way, you can live comfortably on your student budget – and if you spend mindfully, you’ll still have enough money left for traveling. Win-win!
So let’s take it back to our question: How do you find the best destination for your semester abroad?
Well, studying abroad is not just about studying – it’s a unique opportunity to grow as a person, form lifelong friendships and create unforgettable memories. When we’ve asked our students what they consider most important in studying abroad, it’s this: discovering cultures and meeting people first, while academic matters and career-related aspects come second.
Picking a destination is a very individual and personal choice, so think about YOUR goals and YOUR priorities for your semester abroad. Make a list if you need to. Ask yourself the questions above. Follow your gut. And in the end, let’s put it that way: There is no such thing as the “perfect” destination – it’s what you make of it that counts!
Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you!
This text was written by our Study Abroad Assistant Alex!