Some students graduate high school and decide to take a gap year before pursuing higher education, during which time they travel abroad to gain perspective. This is a great choice, but it’s not the only way to travel in your late teens and early twenties. Students who head straight from high school to college or University can still explore the world by taking a semester abroad.

Studying abroad is arranged through your academic institution and typically placements last for one semester, or four months. The school typically has relationships with institutions in various countries across the globe where students can choose to take equivalent courses for a term if their program advisors approve their application. These are some of the best countries for American students to spend their time studying abroad.

8 England

The United Kingdom has a romantic allure for American students who are looking for a chance to study abroad in a country where all the Universities are English-speaking. While Scotland and Ireland are also popular choices for American students to spend a semester abroad, England offers 4 of the top 10 Universities ranked globally. These include the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, and UCL (University College London).

7 France

France is an exciting destination for students looking to travel while studying. It provides a multicultural university experience with young people coming from across the globe to study there. Besides reputable schools, France offers exciting social activities, nightlife, and travel opportunities for students while they are living abroad. Paris and Marseille are vibrant cities that take time to explore, plus France offers easy access to traveling to other European countries by rail or air at low costs.

6 The Netherlands

Dutch universities are among the best in the world and, compared to the United States, tuition is affordable. There are also plenty of scholarship opportunities available to help international students cover the costs of their courses while studying. Travelers instantly think of Amsterdam when imagining living abroad in the Netherlands, but two of the best cities for students in this country are actually Utrecht and Rotterdam. Utrecht has a classic Dutch feel with historical architecture and canals, while Rotterdam is a modern city that caters to the younger demographic.

5 Italy

American students who want to immerse themselves in the rich artistic culture of Italy will love studying abroad in Rome, Bologna, or Florence. While Rome has excellent schools like the Sapienza University of Rome and University of Rome Tor Vergata, Bologna boasts the top-ranked school in the country (University of Bologna). However, Florence is the place to be for students who want to learn about visual art in the birthplace of the Renaissance.

Related: Florence, Italy: Your Essential Weekend Itinerary

4 Japan

Japan is a country in Eastern Asia is a unique culture that many travelers fall in love with. The cities of Japan, like Tokyo and Osaka, are lively and colorful while the countryside remains tranquil.

Japan has approximately 780 universities, many of which offer English-speaking programs. Some top-ranked schools in the country are Tokyo University (Todai), Sophia University, and Hokkaido University, all of which offer programs taught in English. Although Japan is an expensive country to travel to, the Japanese government has initiatives in place to help support international studies while they study. These include scholarships for study in Japan through JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization) and MEXT scholarships from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

3 Norway

For students looking to study abroad in a country with more affordable tuition costs than the United States, Norway is a top consideration. This Scandinavian nation is known for its high quality of life and progressive ideologies. Although it has a reputation among travelers for being expensive, this is not the case with University tuition fees. Public Universities in Norway are free, regardless of where the student is from.

2 Australia

Students who are willing to go to the opposite side of the world for their studies have lots of great schools to choose from when spending a semester abroad in Australia. Australia is a massive country; much like the United States, it's impossible to see it all in a few months and each state or territory is unique. Melbourne and Sydney top the list of the best cities for students in Australia, both of which are on the country’s East Coast. Students who want to study on the West Coast of Australia can consider schools in Perth, such as Edith Cowan University and The University of Western Australia.

From Australia, American students will be able to spend their school holidays budget backpacking in nearby countries like Indonesia and New Zealand. They can also hop a cheap flight to Southeast Asia.

Related: Melbourne VS Sydney: Which City In Australia Should You Choose For Your Working Holiday Visa

1 Spain

Spain is a popular choice for Americans looking to study abroad because of its temperate weather, easy-going lifestyle, beautiful beaches, and incredible architecture. Spain is a country with lots to offer in terms of high-quality education, plus it has exceptional cuisine and affordable prices compared to other European nations. Spain is also a useful choice for Americans because it allows students to learn or improve their Spanish, which is the second most-spoken language in the United States.

Travelers are likely familiar with Barcelona and Madrid, which are large cities connecting Spain to other European cities by train. However, the best cities for students attending Universities in Spain are Seville, Salamanca, and Valencia, to name a few.