Studying abroad elicits a wide array of emotions. This playlist of songs is meant to add music to that entire spectrum of emotion from excitement, to nostalgia, to blissful serenity. It intentionally features young, rising pop artists from the areas of the world we send students to. Here’s 17 songs to soundtrack your study abroad adventure!
If you’re not yet convinced to study abroad, I want Troye to make his case. Growing up in Perth, Australia, Youth is about capitalizing on this fleeting time in our lives when we do everything we can to make the seemingly impossible, possible. It is also a head-numbing, certified bop.
Relatable lyric: “What if, we’re speeding through red lights into paradise. ‘Cause we got no time for getting old”
We all have those cloudy days when we daydream ourselves away to our favorite destination. Miles Away is the perfect driving song to compliment your escapism.
Relatable lyric: “At the moment any place I go is beautiful because in my mind, I’m miles and miles away”
Run Away With Me is the best song to dance around to when you’re just dying to sneak away in the night from everything familiar. It is also, yep, you guessed it, a total and complete bop.
Relatable lyric: “When the lights go out, run away with me”
LUNA, from the Kpop girl group F(X), recently released her first solo mini album and it’s an epic, colorful turn-up jam session. Whether you’re studying abroad in Korea or New Zealand, you’ll be able to appreciate this playful Kpop hit.
Relatable lyric, translated into English: “I hope that you find your true self. I wanna free somebody”
A blissful love song about exploration, wanderlust and adventure.
Relatable lyric: “Someplace where no one knows our name. We’ll find the start of something new”
MRSHLL is South Korea’s first openly gay pop star and he’s making a splash internationally for breaking boundaries. His low-key airy pop music is so serene to soundtrack anything from studying to a chill session with new friends. Going shopping in the inner city? POSE! Getting ready for a night out? POSE! Taking beach selfies?…. POSE!
Relatable lyric: “Baby go and get your life, pose! Cause you know you livin’ right, just pose!”
Insert “studying abroad” with “seventeen” and it’s like Alessia is singing right to you when she belts about wanting to stay ‘seventeen’. We spend so much time wanting something big, like growing up or studying abroad, that when it happens we just want to hit pause and make it last forever.
Relatable lyric: “Now I wish I could freeze the time at seventeen”
A Sydney Syder herself, Betty Who drives you into her personal fantasy world on High Society. This is a love song, calling on those people (or places) who make you feel like you’re the upper crust of society, solely because you’re with them or at that certain destination. When you study abroad and fall in love with your temporary home, that’s how being there begins to make you feel.
Relatable lyric: “Won’t you carry me away, after endless boring dreams. With you, starting everyday we’ll be high society”
Hailing from the other side of the world in Perth, Australia, Tame Impala’s psychedelic sound is so calming. This song is a standout on an album full of vibey tracks, specifically because it is about everything in life that’s fluid.
Relatable lyric: “There is a world out there and it’s calling my name…”
World News is a cheeky grin at being frustrated and bored with the usual and mundane, but basking in how comfortable it can be. It’s another great driving song and a reminder you can always come home.
Relatable lyric: “The bad feeling so bad makes the good so good”
Coming all the way from Auckland, NZ, Ribs is hauntingly nostalgic and contemplative around growing up. It’s a nod towards the days of being innocent. Studying abroad is akin to that same sentiment because it is a chance to be innocent, and new again, in your adult life. Ribs is one of those beautifully somber songs you can use to self medicate when the aftermath of returning home is just too much that day.
Relatable lyric: “We can talk it good, how you wish it would be all the time”
Studying abroad churns up some pretty intense feels, from peak delight and liberation to confusing sadness or the reopening of old wounds. Aside from being a powerhouse, body-numbing bop, Robyn’s Missing U soundtracks just about any feeling of loss and missing that may come up. Whether you’re missing a loved one back home, or ones who are now only part of your past, Missing U has a way of wrapping itself around your sorrow in a comforting embrace. Studying abroad is a rollercoaster, don’t be discouraged by the dips and remember they are necessary connections to the heights.
Relatable lyric: “This part of you, this clock that stopped. This residue, it’s all I’ve got”
Young Blood is one of those songs that doesn’t even need words because the music so perfectly taps into that kind of “late August on the beach at dusk” vibe we wait all year for. It’s another great track to feel young, happy and restless to.
Relatable lyric: “One temporary escape, feel it start to permeate.”
The classic combo of David Guetta & South Australian native Sia deliver another strength and resilience anthem with Flames. A track for the hard days, when homesickness creeps a little too close for comfort. Or when the semester ends and you’re back home missing your abroad home. Let Sia’s words inspire you to keep moving and stay dedicated to your goals for studying abroad, and all of college, despite the challenges.
Relatable lyric: “Just keep moving”
Yes, it’s true, a second Carly Rae Jepsen track! This life-giving mega bop is another dance song to scream at the top of your lungs. It’s fun! Blast it loud, jump around, and celebrate everything great going for you.
Relatable lyric: “I wanna cut through the clouds, break the ceiling!”
South Korea’s newest girl group sensation, BLACKPINK, goes off in every song they release and we truly don’t deserve their bops. So there was no way they could be left off this list! Forever Young is a perfect song to get you amped for a flight, a weekend of exploration, or a night of memories to be made.
Relatable lyric: “I could die in this moment–Forever Young!”
This song is about the whole journey. At this time in our life it feels like we are constantly en route to somewhere. Some paths can be clearer, like a college degree being the vehicle to a career. Some paths only reveal themselves once we’re on them. That’s studying abroad. It will change your life if you let it, but while it’s happening, just enjoy being on your way.
Relatable lyric: “I’m learning that I’m not where I want to be, but trust me, I’m on my way”
Stream the entire playlist on Spotify now!
Originally published July, 2016. Updated August, 2018.