Being glued to your books all the time will quickly drive you insane and, it is verging on criminal to never set foot beyond the campus, especially when you are studying in a foreign country! No matter how intense the level of academic devotion your curriculum may demand, there are always holidays and semester breaks which give students some time to enjoy themselves. And, no matter what country you go to study in, there will always be something new to explore.
Every campus in every country will have numerous students’ associations, clubs, societies and groups to keep you engaged, but you need to do more. As an international student, you should be prepared to relish your host country, taste the richness of its culture, take delight in new cuisines and be enthusiastic about checking out new attractions. Here’s our list of some of cool things that you can do at popular study abroad destinations. We hope you have fun wherever you choose to study!
The US is one of the most exciting countries you could pick to study in. Whether you choose to go to New York, California, Massach-usetts, Washington, Florida or Texas-you’re certain to have an incredibly good time both on and off-campus. Believe us, the liveliness and electric atmosphere of the cities in the US can be infectious and will surely leave you with fond memories to cherish!
The long drives, Broadway shows, whale watching, theme parks, hot air ballooning, architectural marvels, overwhelming ski slopes, exciting nightlife and a stupendous amount of other attractions await you in the US. Every student should take time out to visit must-see attractions such as the Empire State Building, Times Square, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, the White House, and Disneyland, which are some of the most popular destinations.
Indian students who have pursued bachelor’s degrees there state that they particularly enjoy the beaches, adventure sports and going to nearby countries such as those in the Caribbean or Mexico.
New York City as a whole is, of course, another must-see destination. David A Vogelsang, director of New York University’s Resource Center sums it up: “Being in New York City, there are so many opportunities for students to explore — from great shopping, excellent restaurants, and world-class museums to Broadway shows, performances, sporting events and the great sights.”
As home to two of Asia’s best universities, Singapore is a favourite among Indians looking to send their kids to study abroad. Singapore is celebrated for being a dream shopping destination, but that’s just the beginning. When in Singapore, you should definitely visit popular tourist magnets such as the Singapore Flyer, the Botanic Gardens, Sentosa Island, the Merlion, underwater world and of course, the night safari.
After these crowd-pullers are done and dusted, make sure you head to the Chinatown Heritage Centre, where you will not only get to have a great time exploring a well-preserved sliver of Singaporean history, but can also grab some really awesome mementos for home.
A trip to the Haji Lane will be a treat for all fashion lovers, and should yield some great finds in terms of clothes and interiors. The animated market offers an abundant selection of gorgeous stuff to choose from and can be a fun day out, especially with friends. Shopaholics will also have a great time at Mustafa Centre, Arab Street or the Orchard Street.
Singapore has an active nightlife and Zouk and the Ministry of Sound are popular nightclubs which promise an exciting evening out. Those in search of thrills and adventure can opt for a stopover at the newly-opened Universal Studios Theme Park or try their hand at the extreme sports at places such as the Sea Sports Club. And finally, nature enthusiasts can spend their time spotting birds, butterflies and orangutans at the numerous wildlife parks which include the world-famous Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and Dolphin Lagoon.
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The climatic and geographical variations of Canada allow for an amazing range of outdoor activities for you to indulge in. Sameer M Paroo, an international student recruiter and advisor at the University of British Columbia, declares that, because of this vast difference in climate, “it’s always worth exploring the part of the country you have chosen as your study destination.”
During the summers, students have the luxury of choosing between numerous lakes and beaches for an outing, but that’s not all: “You can hike through the forests or up mountains or relax on a beach. You can attend one of the many summer festivals or shows. In Montreal, we have the world famous international Jazz festival and Cirque de Soleil,” says Dallas Curow, a marketing associate at McGill University.
Paroo adds, “Students can venture to Okanagan Valley and to Vancouver Island and Victoria. The Okanagan Valley is home to Canada’s premier fruit growing areas and wineries (for summers) and some amazing mountains which offer great winter recreation activities.”
Don’t think that winter snow will keep you locked in your room. “Snowfall allows a wealth of activities such as ice skating, skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing. Students can visit the spectacular Ice Palace in Quebec City (built every winter, entirely from ice) or take part in one of the many carnivals that celebrate winter,” says Curow.
“Ice skating, barbecues and paintball are some of the many activities I love indulging in at university,” says Karim Parbatani, who is studying mechanical engineering at McGill University. You can also visit Whistler, well-known for its world class slopes, Granville Island or the English Bay on a nice day. Even when the winter is over, you can still enjoy camping, mountaineering, rowing, boating, swimming and cycling.
In the cosmopolitan cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Montreal, students can enjoy a great variety of international cuisine and take pleasure in the thriving multicultural atmosphere. While Montreal is well-known for fine dining, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will offer you an unbelievable choice of South Asian cuisine.
“The GTA is home to more than 500,000 Indo-Canadians. Here, you’ll find the third largest South Asian marketplace in North America as well as numerous Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi restaurants, cafés and shops,” says Richard Levin, executive director of enrolment services and acting university registrar at University of Toronto.
Besides having some of the world’s best educational institutes, the UK offers a wide range of activities to fill your spare time. With the 2012 London Olympics fast approaching, it is an exciting time to be studying in the country. The city of London has its star attractions in Madame Tussauds, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Thames River, Westminster, the O2 arena, Harrods, and Lord’s Cricket Stadium to name but a few of the things that’ll be keeping you busy during your time off study.
But, there is much to see outside of London, and plenty of excuses to go on an excursion wherever you’re studying. “The UK is an easy country to travel, with very good transport links. Most students will at some point take the opportunity to see the famous sights of London. It’s worth noting that it’s very easy to get to London from other UK cities. However, it is important to remember that there’s a lot going on beyond London,” says Patrick Cosh, international officer, communications and international relations division, at Cardiff University.
Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast, Birmingham, Leicester, Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Aberdeen, Leeds-each has its own attractions and it’s fairly easy to be confused as to where you should start! Jay M Nathadwarawala, who did his BEng in Medical Engineering at Cardiff University, says that the best thing about being in the UK was the opportunity to explore the numerous tourist attractions both within and outside the UK. “It was great fun and a memorable experience,” he says.
As Jay suggests, the geographical location of the country offers you easy access to popular European tourist destinations such as France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. “This can be very easy to do with budget airlines offering discounted flights to continental Europe from almost all UK towns and cities,” Cosh informs.
On top of this, every university has hundreds of clubs and societies managed by the students’ unions, which Cosh suggests that you should definitely pay a visit: “On campus, a great place for international students is to visit their students’ unions, which is a social centre for campus life, and the home of student societies.”
These also give you a chance to hone your soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication and ability to work in a tough situation.
The author is an education writer at QS