Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like going to college in a different country, not just as in studying abroad, but actually completing your degree outside the US? Read on to find out a bit more about what college life is like in different parts of the globe! I talked to five of my high school classmates about their experiences living and studying in five different countries.


Completely across the globe, my lovely friend Astrid Haayen is studying in Tongji University in Shanghai. The program consists of one year of learning Chinese, and then five years of studies. She’s currently studying Chinese, but after that Astrid will study Medicine in the Medical School of Tongji University. She decided to study in Shanghai because she really wanted to learn the language, and there’s no better way of learning it than studying there. She lives in one of the four international dorms in the university. She has a roommate, and her dorm includes a fridge, a TV, desks, and a private bathroom. Astrid takes classes Monday through Friday from 8 am to 3 pm. Whenever there’s a holiday in China, they have to take classes on Saturdays as well. She’s really happy because she’s enjoying her stay in Shanghai.

Costa Rica

Daniel Echeverria is studying Dentistry in Universidad de Costa Rica (University of Costa Rica). He decided to study in Costa Rica because the university he is currently attending is very good and prestigious, and since it’s a public university and he’s from Costa Rica, he pays very little for tuition (yay for us Costa Rican-born kids!) He lives with his grandmother. Even though he feels it’s been a radical change for him, it’s been for good. He is still adapting to college life in Costa Rica, but he’s doing great and he likes it there. His classes are usually from 7 am to 3 pm. Since this is his first year, he has been taking general courses in subjects like biology, physics, and chemistry, and these classes feel a lot like a review, so he hasn’t been having any trouble.


Luis Enrique Ruiz is studying Digital Animation Engineering in Universidad del Valle de Mexico. You can read more about his major here. His major has a duration of four and a half years. He decided to study in Mexico because his major isn’t offered in Panama. So far he’s doing great! He likes being back in Mexico, and he he’s getting good grades in all of his classes. He lives with his sister and his grandparents. His schedule of classes varies each day. His earliest class starts at 7 am, and his latest class ends at 4 pm. As extracurriculars go, right now, Luis is in a course to certify his English skills, and he is participating in a project that will create a short film for CutOutFest, an International Animation Festival in Queretaro, Mexico.


Daniel Ramos is studying Engineering in Universidad de Navarra in San Sebastián, Spain. He’s still deciding whether he wants to go for Biomedical Engineering or Industrial Technology Engineering. Biomedical Engineering has a duration of four years, while Industrial Technology Engineering has a duration of five years because you get your master’s degree as well. He decided to study in Spain because there’s no language barrier to overcome, and since he was born in Spain, the process was made easier for him. Daniel lives in dorms that are not part of the university because dorms in the university are managed by the Opus Dei (an institution belonging to the Catholic Church), so there’s many strict rules to be followed in them. He lives with students of different universities in that area, and it’s been truly a great experience for him. He really likes his college experience so far and he’s very happy, but he says the change from high school to college was brutal. For example, his finals are worth as much as 80-100 percent of his grade, and he has to study a lot more than he did in school. But, ultimately, he likes it there.


And, of course, this wouldn’t be complete without a small glimpse of college life in my lovely, tiny country Panama. Gaby Noriega is majoring in Psychology in USMA Panama, a catholic university in the center of Panama City. Gaby lives at home with her parents and drives to school everyday (universities in Panama don’t have dorms, with few exceptions). Her major has a duration of four years, and each year is divided into three quarters. Her earliest class starts at 7am, and she has to wake up before 5am everyday in order to make it to class on time because the traffic is so bad in the morning. Besides academics, Gaby really enjoys “movie-debates”, an activity her department organizes that consists of watching a movie and then debating about it.

So there you have it, Prospies: a glimpse to college life in five different countries.

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the author

Clarissa Gallardo is a sophomore at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Originally from Panama City, Panama (only place in the world where you can see the sun rise in the Pacific and set on the Atlantic!), she is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Mathematics and Ballet. A member of the Honors Program and dancer at heart, you can find her studying at the library, scrolling through her Tumblr feed , dancing, or reading. Clarissa has a really bad case of wanderlust and is obsessed with white chocolate mochas, The Big Bang Theory, and Doctor Reid from Criminal Minds. You can follow her on Twitter and on Tumblr.

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  1. Aja Frost on December 6, 2013

    What a great topic! I’d love to go to college in a different country.

  2. Adam Vincent on June 11, 2015

    When I studied abroad in Rome, my classes were organized through Roma Tre, a public university. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t really any “college life” as we would consider it – the university provided classes, but that was about it. Students tended to live with their families (not in dorms) and sports teams and other clubs were organized through the community.

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