Movies to Inspire You to Study Abroad

There’s a German word, wanderlust, that is defined as a desire to move or travel.

Art is so personal, it’s a nigh on an impossible task to give you a list of movies or songs that will magically inspire you to do something you’ve possibly been considering.

Think of this then as more of a list of movies I’ve enjoyed that have given me wanderlust. Hopefully you have seen them too and will give them the opportunity to inspire you.

Breathless (À bout de soufflé)

Made by Jean-Luc Godard and one of the most influential French New Wave films, Breathless is the essence of cool cinema and it is, for me, the character of France personified.

Breathless is the story of a French criminal on the run attempting to seduce a young American student, though with this film, the plot is mostly secondary. What really defines Breathless is its style. Characters lounge in French apartments smoking, the casual back and forth dialogue driven forward by dramatic and revolutionary filmmaking. It’s dripping with cool and makes me want to go Marseilles or somewhere so badly.

Lost in Translation

inspired by Sofia Coppola’s time in Tokyo, Lost in Translation truly captures the feeling of being alone in a big city that is indecipherable to you.

Now that may not sound like the best advertisement for studying abroad, but there is truly a magic in living in a place you can’t truly understand. And then to find someone you can recognise, understand and then potentially love? This is a movie that awakens the beauty of adventure and hope and possibility.


I’ve already mentioned Breathless; perhaps I have a fondness for romance films shot in black and white. Made in 1979 by Woody Allen, Manhattan is another romantic comedy, yes, but it is also a love letter to New York City and an endearing and funny one at that.

If you have seen a Woody Allen film before, you will know the formula: a worrisome, nervous, Jewish American tries to balance his artistic wants and needs with his love life. Yet the cinematography and music (Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin remains perhaps the greatest opening song to a film ever) is sublime. It’s not difficult to make New York look like a place you want to go- Manhattan does it and then some.

In Bruges

Another comedy, more recent this time, In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two criminal Irishmen hiding out in Bruges, Belgium. The film’s witty dialogue, strong performances and thriller elements give it a unique buddy cop type feel.

It is helped that the main characters visit most of the popular tourist destinations in Bruges- the film often feels like you’re watching two people on holiday, which ultimately, I suppose, you are.

In Bruges may not be the inspiration some of these other films are, but it’s certainly a cheap way to see the sights of Bruges.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

I’ll admit, I didn’t see the magic in this movie. Another Woody Allen film, I watched this one with friends and their incessant nattering throughout kind of ruined it for me. My friends’ incessant nattering that is, not the film’s.

All the same, it inspired them to go on holiday to Barcelona (I couldn’t afford it), so I suppose the film works as a motivational tool for travel, hence its inclusion. It’s also got Rebecca Hall in it and I like her quite a lot, so it wasn’t too awful.

Slumdog Millionaire

This may seem another odd choice as what I can remember from this film involves lots of poverty and running around impoverished areas. But it’s included in lots of other lists about study and travel films so why not include it here? And it’s about India, which is a massively popular study destination so it might inspire you to go there? Maybe?

Bonus: James Bond

Bond travels far and wide throughout the twenty-four and counting film series, visiting metropolises, wide open country and hidden bases underneath volcanoes.

And If James Bond doesn’t make you want to try and find a volcano to study in, then there is no hope for you- this list may ultimately have been a waste of time.