Once every four years, some of the world’s best footballing nations come together, each dreaming of lifting the greatest trophy in football: the World Cup.
With 2018’s event just having started, perhaps it is whetting your appetite for a global life, to share and experience life with people from around the world; to study abroad. But which of the participating nations would be best to study in? Let’s take a look at the 32 participants and see what they have to offer, educationally.
Star Player: Lionel Messi
Notable Universities: Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad Austral, Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina Santa María de los Buenos Aires (UCA)
Around 90,000 students come from abroad to study in Argentina every year, indicating the high quality of the nation’s education, affordable living costs and the chance to experience a fierce and passionate national identity.
Star Player: Tim Cahill
Notable Universities: University of Queensland, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney
Despite having a population of only 23 million, Australia has the third highest number of international students in the world behind only the United Kingdom and the United States. This isn’t surprising when you consider Australia has seven of the top 100 universities in the world.
Star Player: Eden Hazard
Notable Universities: KU Leuven, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ghent University
Oftentimes countries will be described as multicultural, but none embodies this more than Belgium- Belgians can boast Dutch, French and German as official languages, while English is also commonly spoken. Of its 11 million inhabitants, around a quarter were originally from abroad and have become permanent citizens. Plus they have amazing waffles, so why wait?
Star Player: Neymar
Notable Universities: University of Sao Paulo, University of Campinas, Federal University of Minas Gerais
Brazil’s attractions go beyond the beautiful landscapes, the sun that shines the whole year around, and the Carnival parties. As the largest country in Latin America, and a great power among emerging markets, Brazil, with its more than 180 million inhabitants, has more than 2,300 registered higher education institutions offering hundreds of courses.
Star Player: James Rodriguez
Notable Universities: Universidad de los Andes, Nacional Universidad de Colombia, Pontifical Xavierian University
Colombia is South America’s second most populous country after Brazil, and its economy is growing. A gateway to both the Andes and the Amazon, Colombia is blessed with beautiful scenery. Proudly multicultural, Bogotá combines European and New World architecture.
Another of its strengths is the quality of its education, which is reflected in international accolades and accreditations awarded to academic programs at private and public Colombian universities.
Star Player: Keylor Navas
Notable Universities: Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional Costa Rica, Universidad Latina de Costa Rica
An enviable quality of life, beaches, rainforests and a highly developed society, Costa Rica can seem like a paradise on Earth. Adventurists and appreciators of nature will appreciate it more than most. There are active volcanoes, white-water rafting, surfing, butterfly gardens, mountain trails, beaches… the list goes on.
Star Player: Luka Modric
Notable Universities: University of Zagreb, University of Zadar, University of Split
Croatia is an ideal place for students wishing to study in a country renowned for its beautiful coast, for its mix of Mediterranean and South-Eastern European charm and for its rich historical and cultural heritage. Aside from making the most of your educational experience, you can use your time in Croatia to explore the Croatian coast, mountains and natural parks.
Star Player: Christian Eriksen
Notable Universities: University of Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark, Aarhus University
Besides its friendly people, safe communities and low crime rate, Denmark is flush with thriving cities and idyllic landscapes. Once you arrive, it can seem obvious just why so many people choose the Nordic nation in which to study abroad. Danish education is innovative and qualifications are recognised worldwide, providing you with an excellent foundation for your future career.
Star Player: Mohammed Salah
Notable Universities: Al-Azhar University, Cairo University, Ain Shams University
The nation of Egypt has been a cornerstone of the Arab world for millennia. To this day it is a cultural and educational hub, with people travelling from around the world to study and for events such for the Abu Simbel Sun Festival, and nationwide annual celebrations on the Islamic holy festival of Eid.
Star Player: Harry Kane
Notable Universities: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London
With a population over 53 million, England is by far the largest country in the United Kingdom.
As part of the UK, England is one of the most diverse and tolerant countries in the world. Its population is a melting pot of people with different ethnicities and cultural identities, the vast majority of whom were also immigrants to the country at some point in history. This mix of cultures has created an environment that every international student will relish and enjoy.
Star Player: Antoine Griezmann
Notable Universities: HEC Paris, Pantheon-Sorbonne University, University of Grenoble
Widely perceived as a country of great artistic, scientific and cultural significance, studying in France is an attractive option for students looking to enhance their employability. There's also plenty to explore in your downtime. You'll have world-famous art galleries and landmarks, as well as top restaurants and bakeries, right on your doorstep.
Star Player: Thomas Muller
Notable Universities: Technical University of Munich, Humboldt University of Berlin, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Germany is a country of diverse landscape and exciting cities. Its economy is the largest in Europe and the fifth largest in the world. It is, therefore, highly popular among international students. This is because of the country's many excellent universities, its dynamic student life and good funding options.
Star Player: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Notable Universities: University of Iceland, University of Akureyri, Iceland Academy of the Arts
Iceland is a progressive and peaceful nation where freedom and equality are considered the most important qualities. Iceland continuously ranks near the top of measurements for quality of life, gender equality and democracy, and is one of the highest ranked countries in the world in terms of health care, education and internet availability.
Star Player: Sardar Azmoun
Notable Universities: University of Tehran, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Payame Noor University
Iran, historically known as Persia until 1935, is popular with travellers making their way through the Middle East, and there’s little wonder why. The country boasts a rich tapestry of culture and awe-inspiring landscapes. There are many ancient Persian monuments, lavish Qajar mansions and world-renowned museums and art galleries in the bustling capital of Tehran, making it a hotspot for students.
Star Player: Shinji Kagawa
Notable Universities: Nihon University, University of Tokyo, Waseda University
As well as being technologically advanced, Japan’s infrastructure and innovation has made it the envy of the world in a multitude of ways. Yet a culture and heritage embedded in tranquillity means you are never far from peace. With a polite and generous populace, it is no wonder that Japan attracts so many students from around the world.
Star Player: Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernandez
Notable Universities: Universidad Abierta y a Distancia de México, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Tecnologico de Monterrey
Mexico, the ancient home of the Mayans and Aztecs, is rich in cultural and natural beauty. The country's fascinating geography features deserts, tropical rainforests, mountains and beaches, with surprising variations in climate between different zones.
While Spanish is the primary language spoken today, the indigenous culture is still very clearly seen in art, fashion, and, of course, food.
Star Player: Medhi Benatia
Notable Universities: University of Hassan II Casablanca, Ben Youssef Madrasa, Mohammed V University
Morocco is situated on the north shore of Africa, a stone’s throw from Spain and the Mediterranean, and within reach of the Middle East. All of these cultures have influenced Morocco during its history. Arabic, Berber and French are all commonly spoken and perhaps the most well-known city is Casablanca, the largest population centre and the setting for the classic movie.
Star Player: John Obi Mikel
Notable Universities: University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, National Open University of Nigeria
Nigeria is in Western Africa and the perfect place to absorb and celebrate the vivid culture of Africa. If you choose to study abroad in Nigeria, you’ll experience the customs and traditions of the 500 different ethnic groups that call this country home. Football is also very popular throughout the country, and there are many Nigerian football players on top-rated international teams around the world.
Star Player: Gabriel Torres
Notable Universities: University of Panama, Technological University of Panama, Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua
Those considering studying in Panama may be delighted to know that Panama City was recently polled as having the happiest citizens in the world. Whether you’re visiting on holiday or to study, it's easy to see why.
The country was explored and settled in the 1500s by the Spanish and wears its Spanish influence proudly. Alongside its own improving educational institutions, many programs are taught in English as well as Spanish.
Star Player: Paolo Guerrero
Notable Universities: Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, National University of San Marcos, Universidad Tecnológica del Perú
Resting atop South America’s western shoulder, to study abroad in Peru is to enjoy a former Spanish colony turned ethnic melting pot; it is a place where international students can enjoy cultural influences from Amerindians, Mestizo, Chinese, Japanese, and Afro-Peruvian. Put simply, there is much to like in Peru. The capital, Lima, retains some fine Sevillian-colonial architecture, and Cusco remains a popular jumping off point, but the nature reserves are the country’s true gems.
Star Player: Robert Lewandowski
Notable Universities: University of Warsaw, Jagiellonian University, Adam Mickiewicz University
With a history dating back over a thousand years, Poland’s cultural heritage is incredibly rich. This includes its longstanding traditions in the higher education sector, with the first university in Poland founded in the 14th century. Today, Poland is becoming an increasingly popular study destination, with more than 57,000 international students choosing to study there in 2015/16.
Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Notable Universities: University of Coimbra, University of Porto, University of Lisbon
Peaceful and pretty, there is much to love about Europe’s most westerly country. Blessed with beautiful weather, an easy-going people and a charming culture, living in Portugal is simply a joy. Portugal is also home to some of the world’s oldest and most intriguing universities.
Star Player: Alan Dzagoev
Notable Universities: Moscow State University, Saint Petersburg State University, Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Russian universities provide their students with comfortable studying and living conditions and help them adapt to the country. Moreover, international students have the opportunity to study for free at the expense of the Government budget. Each year Russia accepts students from all over the world, from nearly 170 countries, and you can join them.
Star Player: Osama Hawsawi
Notable Universities: Umm al-Qura University, King Abdulaziz University, King Khalid University
Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the largest Arab state in Western Asia by land area and the second-largest in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia has the world's largest oil reserves which are concentrated largely in the Eastern Province. This has facilitated the transformation of an underdeveloped desert kingdom into one of the world's wealthiest nations.
Saudi Arabia offers the chance to explore the nation’s distinctive political and cultural environment, as well as visit some of the region’s greatest ancient archaeological sites, while soaking up plenty of sun.
Star Player: Kalidou Koulibaly
Notable Universities: Cheikh Anta Diop University, Gaston Berger University, Université de Thiès
The Republic of Senegal, which achieved independence in 1960 after more than a century of French colonial rule, is arguably one of the most democratic countries in West Africa. Although French is the country’s official language and Wolof the predominant language, other languages are spoken by the country’s multi-ethnic population, which is more than 90 percent Muslim.
Spend a semester engaged in development studies, a year studying language and culture, or gain multiple perspectives in Francophone studies. Enjoy cultural centres, theatres and a wide variety of restaurants and nightclubs in Dakar, a city famous for its lively intellectual life and rich socio-cultural landscape that draw from both Africa and the West.
Star Player: Nemanja Matic
Notable Universities: University of Belgrade, University of Novi Sad, University of Niš
Serbia, in the Balkans, is home to a young population, is brimming with bars, cafés and clubs, and offers a unique hybrid of the modern western world and its Ottoman past. Serbia is often overlooked as a go-to destination, with people opting for its neighbour, Croatia. However, the country has plenty to offer -including a fascinating capital city that boasts a rich cultural life.
Being overlooked has its advantages for students, though, as the current lack of visitors has kept prices low. The people are friendly, the food is good, and the nightlife is bustling.
Star Player: Son Heung-min
Notable Universities: Yonsei University, KAIST, Seoul National University
Living and studying in South Korea may provide students an opportunity to explore a beautiful and vibrant country. Study in South Korea is a once in a lifetime opportunity, whether exploring South Korea’s large and bustling capital city, Seoul, or exploring the country’s lush coastlands and countryside, students are sure to enjoy a variety of interesting sights and gorgeous views. Students are also likely to enjoy South Korea’s rich and dynamic culture.
Star Player: Andres Iniesta
Notable Universities: Complutense University of Madrid, University of Barcelona, Universitat Politècnica de València
Spain has a variety of universities in a range of locations and tuition fees are among the lowest in Europe. Popular student cities include Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Seville and Valencia. While Spain has a rich history and culture of its own for you to explore, you'll also be well connected to other favoured destinations such as London and Paris.
Star Player: Emil Forsberg
Notable Universities: Lund University, Uppsala University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Sweden has a long and proud history of academic excellence and despite its relatively small population, it’s home to some of the world’s best universities.
Swedish society is known for its inclusiveness and equality – you may have heard Sweden referred to as the most equal country in the world. It consistently places among the world’s top countries in gender equality, while lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Sweden are regarded as among the most progressive in the world.
Star Player: Xherdan Shaqiri
Notable Universities: École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, University of Zurich, University of Geneva
In your study-free hours you'll be able to explore what is widely thought of as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The Alps dominate 60% of the country but the striking scenery isn't all that's on offer. In the summer you'll be able to enjoy arts and music festivals in Swiss meadows, while in the chillier months you'll have the opportunity to participate in winter sports such as skiing, ice-hockey and skating.
Star Player: Ellyes Skhiri
Notable Universities: Tunis University, Tunis El Manar University, University of Sfax
Tunisia may be the smallest country in Northern Africa, but it’s packed full of culture and history that will enrich your study abroad experience. Once home to Berber tribes, the Carthaginians, Roman soldiers, and French colonizers, Tunisia is the perfect place to relive the development of the modern world.
Each of these influences have helped to create a richly diverse culture that features the best of Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. During your semester or year in Tunisia you’ll attend dance festivals, marvel at ancient art in the country’s museums, and indulge in couscous and fresh seafood.
Star Player: Edinson Cavani
Notable Universities: University of the Republic (Uruguay), Universidad Católica del Uruguay, Universidad ORT Uruguay
This small country in the southern South America is a great spot to study abroad. With a tropical climate, amazing academic opportunities, and lots of cultural activities, Uruguay is sure to be a pleasing and entertaining study spot for a semester or even a year.
The country’s culture is influenced by both indigenous tribes and many European countries, including Spain and Italy. If you choose to study in Uruguay, you’ll experience Spanish Impressionist Painting, traditional tango music, and countless other fun, unusual, and unforgettable parts of Uruguayan culture.