Top 10 Summer Travel Hotspots for Students

As summer approaches the UAE, students will be looking to travel abroad to escape the soaring temperatures. Student travel during summer is undoubtedly a great avenue for recreation and enjoyment. But why not kill two birds with one stone? Students should not only look to have fun but also use the summer for learning experiences as well as to research future prospects. So, for example, an enterprising student could explore his dream colleges during summer vacation. With that in mind, let's look at the top 10 summer travel hot-spots for students: 

1. United States of America (USA)

The US is obviously on the top of our list of student travel destinations. The United States is such a vast and diverse country that one summer vacation will not be enough for some. You have the awe-inspiring expanse of the Grand Canyon as well as the neck-craning heights of New York skyscrapers. You can bask in the beaches of Miami or enjoy the time of your life at Walt Disney World Resort. The possibilities are endless so make sure you do your research! Here's one good website to start with: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/introduction According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), about 2, 800 UAE students were enrolled in US colleges and universities in 2014-2015. About 90 per cent of these students went to study on scholarships, many of which were government-issued. This is not surprising. The US after all is one of the best educational and research hubs in the world. Every major city in America has reputed universities offering world-class degrees. Therefore, you may want to check on these colleges while traveling. You can start researching about US colleges here: https://ae.usembassy.gov/education-culture/study-usa/ 

2. Canada

Want to go to the States but you’re not able to? You can always try its sister country Canada! The second largest country in the world is home to endless wheat prairies, the precipitous Niagara Falls, snow-kissed Rocky Mountains (at Banff National Park) and so much more. As if Canada’s natural beauty was not enough, the country boasts multicultural metropolises such as Vancouver and Toronto. See the government of Canada’s website here for tourist info: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/tourist.asp UAE students do not seem to prefer Canada for higher studies. In 2015, only 75 students from the UAE were enrolled in Canadian universities (http://www.thenational.ae/uae/education/us-is-best-for-emiratis-looking-to-study-abroad). Like the US, Canada has world-class universities (McGill, University of Toronto etc.) which are regularly featured in the QS World University Rankings. Students visiting Canada for the summer would do well to explore various educational opportunities. Learn more about education in Canada here: https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/north-america/canada/guide 

3. United Kingdom (UK)

Little introduction is needed for the land of Shakespeare, Stonehenge, Beatles and Dr. Who. The UK is a must-visit mecca for summer travelers. As a Harry Potter fan (you must be!), you would want to visit the Warner Bros. Studios Tour in London. Or perhaps you’re a fan of the Bard—then you will want to see his birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon or catch a play at the Shakespeare’s Globe. Get away from London and there are the natural wonders of the UK. Ponder over how the stone blocks were brought to Stonehenge or scan the Loch Ness Lake for old Nessie! Plan your trip to the UK today: https://www.visitbritain.com/us/en#OcqW4V7pH2GxJWki.97 Great Britain is an enormously popular destination for Emiratis and UAE expats. About 3, 400 UAE students went to study in the UK in 2014-2015. This is understandable considering the UK’s robust reputation for education and research. Look up the British Council’s website for details: https://www.britishcouncil.ae/en/study-uk/why-the-uk 

4. Australia

Some would say you should give 'Straya’ (as locals call it) a miss during summer season. We disagree. Because if you skip Australia, you would miss out on seeing the endless blue Great Barrier Reef and its diverse marine ecosystem. The same goes for Daintree Forest, which rivals the Great Barrier Reef in terms of eco-diversity. If nature is not your thing, Australia’s beaches will make you reconsider. Start planning your trip to Australia here: http://www.australia.com/en-us In the aftermath of 9/11.

Many international students did not feel safe studying in the US and UK. People in the Middle East began seeing Australia as a viable study destination. Since then, thousands of UAE students have moved “Down Under” (and vice versa) for work and higher studies. There is a strong student presence in Australia, specifically in institutions like the University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, Australian National University etc. Planning to study in Australia? Check this site out: http://uae.embassy.gov.au/abud/study.html 

5. India

Indians have a popular saying--'Atithi Devo Bhava’ (The guest is equivalent to God). This catchphrase is at the center of India’s code of hospitality and tourism. Despite how welcoming Indians may be, India will still overwhelm you. The country is a sensory overload of crowds, colors, sounds and smells. You will be overwhelmed, awed and amazed at the smorgasbord. Since India is a confluence of so many faiths, we recommend the country as a must-visit for its religious hotspots. (See here: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india).

Each major Indian faith has beautiful religious structures to see. Varanasi (at the banks of the sacred Ganges River) will give you a taste of Hinduism; other places of Hindu interest are Puri & Konark in Odisha and Dwarka and Gir Somnath in Gujarat. The Ajanta Caves houses Buddhist art & sculpture, the Sikhs have the Golden Temple (which is made partly out of gold!) while Goa is great for the Indian Christian experience. Did you know the Taj Mahal is still a place of worship for Muslims? Muslim locals regularly offer namaz at this Wonder of the World. Other Islamic places of interest are the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Jama Masjid and the Salim Chisti Dargah See here for a list of Indian religious hotspots: https://www.tourmyindia.com/blog/top-25-religious-tourism-places-in-india/ 

6. Singapore

As the 'Little Red Dot’ of Asia, Singapore is a pretty small country. In terms of area, Singapore is about 0.008% of the size of the UAE!  Singapore is an economic and educational powerhouse that has earned its moniker as one of the 'Four Asian Tigers.’ You will have endless fun at theme parks like Sentosa (“Asia’s Favorite Playground”) or Universal Studios Singapore. You can enjoy great local food at hawker stalls around the city or shop at Chinatown and Orchard Road. By the way, they celebrate all kinds of festivals in Singapore! If you’re lucky, you might visit the city when it celebrates Dipavali, Chinese New Year or Hari Raya Puasa (as Eid is called in Singapore). These events are marked by great pomp and fervor. Singaporeans don colorful clothes and cook mouth-watering dishes like beef 'rendang’, 'ketupat’ (rice cakes), bakkwa etc. If you want to visit Singapore, start here: http://www.visitsingapore.com/en.html Singapore is a pretty fun place for tourists. But, as a student, you will want to pay special attention to the city-state’s educational facilities. Singapore ranks highly in global education rankings (http://www.bbc.com/news/education-38212070): it is feted often as having the 'world’s best education system’. Additionally, Singapore has the highest-ranked universities in Asia (National Institute of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University). Start you research on Singapore education here: https://www.moe.gov.sg/admissions/international-students/general-info 

7. Malaysia

If you choose to visit Singapore, Malaysia is close enough to stop by. You’re likely to fly into Kuala Lumpur so experience the urban craziness of this Asian city at Chinatown, Aquaria KLCC or the Petronas Towers. Like Singapore, Malaysia is a diverse home for Malay, Chinese and Indians. This means you can get mouth-watering & cheap street food everywhere, especially in the Georgetown capital of Penang. (Penang and Kuala Lumpur also have a lot of history because of their temples, caves and colonial-era buildings.) Like with Australia, you can’t go to Malaysia and not step onto a beach. The gorgeous beaches of Malaysia—especially in Langkawi, Tioman Island and Borneo—are what make this country a worthwhile summer visit. Diving and snorkeling in Malaysia are recommended, especially in the Semporna Archipelago and the Perhentian Islands. See here for more details: http://www.itc.gov.my/tourists/welcome-to-malaysia-the-land-of-truly-asia/ 

8. France

Art, architecture, food, fashion and so much more define and yet cannot fully capture France. Though the country has suffered many terrorist attacks of late, France remains a spirited country you must visit. Sit in a café in Paris (the “City of Lights”) and eat croissants with your coffee (you know you want to!), Imbibe French culture at the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the Louvre or even any one of the fashion houses or art galleries. And who knows, you might catch a famous person at the French Riviera (if you’re lucky)! As important a cultural hub France is, it is also relevant for its educational experience. French universities of note are the École Normale Supérieure and the École Polytechnique (both are based in Paris). According to the French embassy in Abu Dhabi, “more than 260 000 foreign students” come to study in France. Many UAE students are part of this group, coming to France on government scholarships. Look here if you aspire to study in France: https://ae.ambafrance.org/Studying-in-France-1929. Also, if you wish to learn French (which you must if you want to be in France), you should visit the Alliance Francaise association in Abu Dhabi: https://www.afabudhabi.org/ 

9. Italy

The birthplace of the Renaissance and the fount of Roman Catholicism, Italy boasts a crucial relevance to modern history. You have the remnants of Rome in the colossal Coliseum and the Forum. You would definitely want to visit Vatican City, see St. Peter’s Basilica and browse the enormous art collections. (Believe us: there is much more than the works by Michelangelo and Raphael to look through!) Want more art? Then go to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence: every Renaissance artistic great has a painting or sculpture there. Tired of art and feeling hungry? Well Italy is more than willing to stuff you up! All the pizza you ate in life was nothing: Italy makes the real Italian food! If you’re looking for a gastronomic journey through Italy, look no further: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/things-to-do/best-places-to-eat-in-italy 

10. China

China has in recent years established itself as a prominent global force. It has also promoted itself as a must-not-miss tourist destination. China to the traveler’s eye is a constant clash of the old and new. The old China is personified in the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace (Beijing). Juxtaposed next to it is the new China embodied in the fascinating (and break-neck) development of cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. Just like with India, you will not get over how the Chinese live so densely packed together. The same goes for China’s natural beauty, whether it is the Jiuzhaigou National Park or the Wulingyuan Mountains (yes the floating mountains of Avatar’ came from here!). Planning to visit China? Start here: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/china. Also if it’s your first trip, check this site: http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/plan-first-trip.htm

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