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Study abroad recommendations?

Hi, not sure how relevant this to Duolingo itself but I feel like the duo community would have some great insight! I am considering doing a semester abroad for my senior year of high school, but I have no idea where I'd even want to go. I know I'd want to go in Europe but not sure if I'd prefer France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, or maybe even Norway? I'm interested in all those languages and I know French or German would be the most beneficial and useful, but what would be the best experience?

Has anyone done anything similar? Does anyone have any insight or thoughts?


June 28, 2017



Hi, I have never studied a semester abroad myself but I have visited all the countries you mention except Norway and live in the Netherlands.

My home country is quite densely populated in the west and middle parts and less so in the east near the border with Germany and south near the border with Belgium. It is a good choice if you like distances to be relatively small - you can drive or take the train and be well into Germany or Belgium/France within a day - and do not mind living in the city. The image you may have of Amsterdam is not correct for most of the country. Amsterdam is our largest city and is a bit, some say, more progressive which certainly attracts eccentric and also creative people. However, even in Amsterdam not everything is acceptable and allowed like some foreigners believe. We have three levels of high school: the first prepares students for vocational education, the second for higher tertiary education (loosely translated to college) and the last one for university tertiary education. We are placed in the categories based on our abilities in primary school and in some schools also the first year of high school. The German system is similar and I do not know the French, Italian and Norwegian systems.

Germany, Italy and France are less densely populated than the Netherlands with the exception of their major cities, and distances between cities tend to be large in European terms but are usually fairly straightforward to reach. Depending on where you stay you may also be able to enjoy nature: forests, the mountains, the sea and so on, and even city life if that is what you prefer. We don't have mountains in the Netherlands but we do have forests and the North Sea coast.

Norway is even less densely populated and depending on where you stay cities are extremely spaced out and hard to reach. In many parts of the country you will need to be able to entertain yourself, possibly outside in nature, and take responsibility for your well being. Norway, stretching far from south to north, has various climates which is something you need to take into account when planning your stay so that you bring or buy appropriate clothing as needed. In many areas the winters are harsh and people (can) travel on skis, in others the climate is mild like in the Netherlands.

A final thing to note is that Italy and France (arguably) are primarily Catholic whereas Norway and Germany are primarily Protestant and the Netherlands is no longer religious but many people have a Catholic or Protestant background. If religion is important to you this may be worth looking into.


Dutchman here myself, I don't know a lot of high schools that would be applicable for that. Most of them don't even teach courses in English. There is something of an "European school" though, which is intended for the children of diplomats and other internationally based folks. They do teach courses in English there, but I'm not sure you'd be able to do a semester there. You could always consider contacting them to ask them.

As for your interest in which country you'd want to go to, I'd not let that depend on language as it's quite complicated to learn a language in 6 months. All countries nonetheless definitely have something to offer and you'd be well off in all of them. Probably sounds very generic, but really, it's a matter of personal preference. Just read a lot about the countries, see what you prefer and make a choice based on that.


OP might be able to but they will have to look for an exchange program or contact individuals/schools. I am not aware of any formal framework for exchange students unfortunately, but there exist dual language schools (TTO) that teach both in Dutch and English, I think they are public schools but I'm not sure.

For most people it's much easier to study a semester/year abroad during college/university because they are (likely) an adult then and colleges/universities award European credits that are usually transferable. Many courses can be found in English and there exist minors, some of which are tailored to foreigners. For vocational education it's a bit more tricky because these schools are more domestic, but it might be possible with a bit of effort.


Interesting to learn about the TTO schools, I wasn't even aware there were so many here! I've also just spoken to my younger brother who is still in high school (VWO) and students from other countries studying there for a semester does happen apparently, altough the education mostly being in Dutch is obviously a challenge.

Also great description about studying abroad in college, I studied abroad myself as part of the Erasmus programme and it's completely accurate.


Just making it clear I do not want English language curriculum. There are programs that provide exchange services for Americans planning a semester in the Netherlands.


If you want to go to Norway I think all exchange students come for one school year. Coming here for one semester is easier at university level. I know AFS, YFU and even Rotary has had exchange students living with Norwegian families in the past. We don't have many international schools here (and those charge high fees) so you would be expected to learn Norwegian and take part in a normal Norwegian class (so full immersion).


I am not at all interested in English curriculum, I'm not going to go across the world to be taught in the same way I'd be taught here. My one concern with Norwegian is that I'd likely be in a rural area and Norwegian skills wouldn't be useful unless I planned to move to Norway, which is possible!


It is true, some foreigners find even our smaller towns in Norway too small for their liking. Perhaps Germany would be better,then.


What are the broad lines of your semester?


I would do some research of the countries Would you like to live there someday? Are the yearly public events attracting to you? Does their tradition attract you more? Which is better for students studying abroad? Stuff like that

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