Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by AIFS Abroad
March 3rd is World Wildlife Day, an international holiday to celebrate all of Earth’s diverse animals and plants. Here’s something you may not have considered before – studying abroad is a unique opportunity for you to observe and learn about some of the world’s most incredible animals in their natural habitats.
So, in honor of World Wildlife Day, let’s look at some of the best places to study abroad if you’re a nature lover:
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
If you’re looking for an enriching experience, consider a study abroad program that focuses on wildlife and conservation in the Galápagos Islands. You can better understand the local ecosystem in the Galápagos by taking an environmental science course. The program includes an excursion to Santa Cruz Island where you’ll get to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center. You can also explore an organic coffee plantation farm and learn about the ongoing efforts to protect the area’s natural resources.
And of course, no visit to the Galápagos is complete without encountering the giant tortoises, which are among the many species that can only be found in this region. In fact, some species on the Islands haven’t changed much since prehistoric times! Other wild highlights include sea turtles, marine iguanas and the endangered Galápagos penguins (fun fact: it’s the only penguin species found north of the Equator).
Stellenbosch, South Africa
For wildlife lovers looking for an exciting study abroad experience, Stellenbosch might just be the perfect destination! This vibrant university town is in the heart of South Africa’s Western Cape Winelands, surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery and home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna. In Stellenbosch, students can take a biodiversity and ecology course and learn more about the local plants and animals.
Choosing Stellenbosch as your study abroad location also gives you the opportunity to explore some amazing wildlife outside of the classroom. Popular excursions in the past include visiting Boulders Beach to see African penguins, adventures to an elephant sanctuary and a trip to Monkeyland, a free-roaming primate sanctuary. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Cape Mountain zebra – once on the brink of extinction, this species is making a comeback in recent years.
San José, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Home to over 500,000 species (5% of the total species estimated worldwide), Costa Rica is an incredible place for wildlife enthusiasts to study abroad. Think about it – imagine exploring a cloud forest and spotting a sloth lazily hanging from a tree or catching sight of a brightly colored macaw soaring through the sky. You might even spot a wild cat like a jaguar if you’re super fortunate!
You can also get to know wildlife right in Costa Rica’s capital city. With AIFS Abroad you can study a variety of topics in San José, including tropical ecology, tropical marine biology and sustainable development.
Perth, Western Australia
I mean, how could we make a list of wildlife wonderlands and not mention Australia? Studying abroad in Perth gives you easy access to Rottnest Island, the home of selfie-loving quokkas (adorable little marsupials that always look super happy). And just 10 miles from Perth’s city center is Caversham Wildlife Park, where you can interact with iconic Aussie critters like koalas, kangaroos and wombats.
You can also learn about Australia’s wildlife in the classroom when you study abroad in Perth. Course options span a wide range of subjects, including ecotourism and environmental sciences.
Protecting wildlife: a note on sustainability + study abroad
AIFS Abroad incorporates environmental education into all our programs. We share tips like best practices in host countries and tools to reduce each participant’s environmental footprint. If you’re passionate about sustainability, check out our other posts on the topic or learn how AIFS Abroad is addressing climate issues through our Green Initiative.