Q&A: Why Did You Study Abroad in _________?

Perhaps you’ve checked out the vast array of 27+ different countries on the ISA website, leaving you a bit mystified. We understand. Whether it’s for a short month or a whole year, making the decision about where to go can be the most difficult part!

We asked students (who chose from five different continents) and they answered:


When I was first considering studying abroad, I was on the ISA website and I was looking at programs in Africa. I was trying to click on South Africa, but instead I selected Morocco. I can honestly say it’s been the best thing that has ever happened to me although I have only been here a week.

-Khadijah Dixon, Albright College

ISA’s Cape Town program offered all of the things I was looking for in a study abroad experience: proximity to a city, outdoor adventures, quality academics, warm weather, and a goal of immersion rather than extravagance. South Africa stood out because it was so foreign to me–so out of my comfort zone.

-Amanda Danielson, Tufts University

IMG_20160115_085643 (1)I really wanted to study French, but I also love to experience different cultures. I wanted an experience that would push me far beyond my boundaries, and for me Morocco is that experience. Not only do I have to adjust to a new city, but almost every aspect of life here contrasts greatly with what I’m used to. Whether it’s coping with being a vegetarian abroad or taking on the challenge of communicating my travel plans to my host family, there is always something new to keep me occupied. Moroccans are some of the most dramatic, social, compassionate people I’ve ever met, and I look forward to not just absorbing the culture here, but also bringing certain aspects of Moroccan culture back with me to the US.

-Sarita Hira, Baldwin Wallace University


Netflix recommended a Korean drama called Boys Over Flowers on my best friend’s Netflix, and we watched it COMPLETELY on a whim late at night one night. I wasn’t even considering studying abroad in Asia, but 25 episodes later, I came across the South Korea program through ISA, and it really stuck out to me. So I looked into the program, the country, the culture, everything, and I applied! I am a Netflix success story.

-Nikki Hallstrom, Bethel University


I knew I wanted to study in Japan because I’ve been studying Japanese for years and needed an excuse to finally meet my pen pals in-person. It was a difficult, painstaking decision choosing which part of the country to stay in, since ISA offers a few different locations. I went with Tokyo because it probably has the most to offer in terms of activities, sights to see, people to meet, and proximity to a bunch of cool locations. I don’t know of many other places in the world where I can be a half hour away from both a centuries-old temple and a store crammed full of Pokemon goodies. When I went before in 2010 I remember just walking aimlessly around the city surrounded by skyscrapers until all of a sudden I was at a shrine and a festival (to celebrate Shichi-go-san) was occurring. It was a really neat surprise and I’m hoping to run into more lucky occurrences like that when I study abroad.

-Marissa Ditkoff, Rowan University


I chose to study in Dublin, Ireland because my family is Irish and I visited last year and fell in love. I love the culture of Ireland and the people are ridiculously nice. I wanted to make lasting friends – although I’m sure I could do that just about anywhere. But to be frank there was just something warm and fuzzy about Ireland that feels like home!

-Maegan Lovell, Washington State University

I chose Scotland because I have always considered myself an Anglophile and liked the United Kingdom. After reading the book Outlander I fell in love with Scotland and wanted to spend time there.

-Allie Brown, University of Minnesota, Duluth

IMG_2188I chose Valencia, Spain, because it wasn’t as big as Madrid or Barcelona, but at the same time it wasn’t too small like Granada or Salamanca. Also, I didn’t want to be in touristy places like Madrid or Barcelona, because I thought then I wouldn’t be forced to speak Spanish.

-Hee Sang Rheu, The Ohio State University

Florence, Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance, so it felt only natural to study abroad in this city filled with the intersection of history and art at every corner. This semester will be the culmination of my studies and I look forward to experiencing everything Italy has to offer. Not to mention, naps in the afternoon are encouraged and I hear gelato is delicious. ISA’s Florence program is the perfect fit.

-Abby Pang, University of Missouri, Kansas City

photo-1422270220275-7aab7dbe9309I chose to study abroad in London because of the theatre scene! I also knew that there was so much to do and visit and it’s pretty easy to get anywhere (in London, the UK, and Europe). I also liked the juxtaposition between the historical architecture mixed with the more modern buildings. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of English pop culture!

-Haley Fusia, Georgia College and State University

In seventh grade, we had someone come speak to us who had taken a gap year in Paris. I was falling in love with French culture then, and I continued to fall in love throughout my high school career. When I decided to take a gap year, there was never another option besides Paris.

-Kelsey Desmond, GAP year student

I chose to spend my semester in Prague because it was a little out of my comfort zone. Not only is it a chance for me to immerse myself in another culture and learn a new language, but it is a city rich with recent history and beautiful architecture.

-Kendall Pemberton, College of Charleston

I chose to study in Seville because it’s one of the most quintessentially Spanish cities around. It’s the home of flamenco, tapas, bullfights, and passionate people. Living here gives me the opportunity to improve my Spanish while being close to the rest of Europe. I visited Seville for a few days during high school, and I fell in love with the city. I knew that I had to come back one day, so here I am!

-Marley Kropp, Grove City College

Latin America

I chose to study abroad in Barranquilla, Colombia for many reasons. Most importantly I came to know the real Colombia not just what is said on the news or from the history of the county. I am studying abroad here to learn about the REAL Colombia. This is a country with so much beauty between the mountains and the coasts. This semester living in Barranquilla will be an opportunity to explore a country with endless beauty from the oceans to the mountains. I cannot stress enough how happy I am to have chosen a non-traditional location. Don’t believe what people say about Colombia!

-Kelly Marble, Drake University

11045794_10205569058841843_1441351418_oYay Latin America! ….I chose to study abroad in Valparaíso/Viña del Mar, Chile, primarily on a whim. The reason I am studying abroad is to immerse myself in a Spanish-speaking culture, so that left my options very open. I am adrenaline junkie and seek to be constantly active, so it was very much geared toward the outdoor adventure side that Latin America seems to offer. After much research and trying to find “the best place for me,” I ended up selecting Chile and am completely stoked to start my journey in less than a month. I can hear brightly painted streets, beach and mountains (can it get any better?!) calling my name!

-Rebecca Roebuck, Oklahoma State University

I’m studying abroad in Florianópolis, Brazil because I figured that I can go to Europe later on in life, but I would never pack up the van and take my family to South America. And because the name is super cool, obviously.

-Julia Schweiss, University of South Carolina

I chose to study in Buenos Aires, Argentina because of the great diversity within one place and the unique culture. The “Paris of South America” is a bustling metropolitan city much like some of the larger ones in the US, however, it is also close to beaches and displays a rich culture of the arts, especially in dance and architecture. Although I’ve visited other countries before, the experiences in Argentina will be like none other!

-Katelyn Lundquist, University of Findlay
IMG_4169I am studying abroad in Barranquilla, Colombia. I chose to study abroad here in Colombia because I wanted to have a more non-traditional experience. I have always been curious about the world and Colombia was very mysterious to me and I wanted to know more. There is also a wide variety of natural climates and geographical feature. From mountain, the coast, to rainforests, there is so much to see and explore in Colombia! Also, as a Spanish minor I came to Colombia in hopes of improving my Spanish skills and immerse myself in a new culture.

-Amber Craig, Kansas State University


I wanted to go somewhere that would expand my business education and knew Sydney would be a place I could do just that. As an international business hub and the location of the International College of Management, I chose Sydney so I could study and intern during my stay. Also, located in the southern hemisphere, Sydney allows me to avoid a Midwest winter and that is an offer I would never pass up!

– Ryan Harvey, Hope College

leleuviaI chose to to study in Dunedin for multiple reasons. I really wanted to go there ever since I was a little kid, also New Zealand has everything to offer in one place: hiking, surfing, snowboarding, and other stuff. Also I am currently looking at grad schools and depending on how much I like it I might go to grad school there as well. I am really excited to cook and go shopping for all the fresh seafood and other types of food that I could not get in the US.

-Andreas Kueller, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

I value new experiences more than anything. I have already studied in Florence. After that, I researched and Newcastle, Australia seemed to be a good fit. I’m also hoping to go to every continent by age 25, so I’ll have the first 3 under my belt after this semester!

-Jeffery Wysong, Unversity of Alabama

IMG_7583For me, Australia was an easy choice. I’d wanted to go there since I was a little kid. The only real dilemma was whether to do it in Sydney or Melbourne. I eventually picked the latter after researching it quite a bit and deciding that Melbourne seemed to fit my personality better. Melbourne is the more artistic and culturally diverse of the two cities. As someone who loves immersing myself in both art and culture, I should (hopefully!) feel right at home.

-John Green, Southern Illinois University

As an overall nature-lover and aspiring ski-bum, New Zealand was the obvious choice for my four months abroad. I set my sights on Dunedin for the variety of potential recreational adventures that come with living on the South Island. I am all about the fact that the University of Otago offers courses within my unique Outdoor Recreation Business Administration major, but I also just really want to summit a bunch of mountains and try out bungee jumping where it all began. Plus, sheep are pretty cool and Kiwis have awesome accents. So Dunedin, New Zealand it was.

-Patty Smith, University of Maine – Farmington

Living in Australia has always been a dream of mine. While I was deciding where to study abroad I stumbled across Newcastle, Australia: a beautiful, laid back beach town thriving with an incredible art scene and maritime culture. As soon as I saw pictures of this vibrant city I knew it was the perfect place for me!

-Taylor Shuman, Chapman University

The world awaits… discover it.

4 thoughts

  1. Pingback: Marley K Travels
  2. I just loved this Q&A article, curious and very informative. The Netflix story is awesome. Amazing to see that such a simple thing can lead you to an incredible adventure and experience. I find stories from Kelly Marble and Patty Smith motivating and peculiarly colorful. Thank you!

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