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Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 12am

Best Student Cities You May Not Have Considered: The Americas

Best Student Cities You May Not Have Considered: The Americas main image


Oh, hi there. Welcome to part two of our series looking at the underappreciated gems unearthed by our Best Student Cities Ranking. Exciting, no?

Last time around we took a glamorous trip around Europe, taking in cultured Vienna, stylish Helsinki and stately Brussels. Well, this time around we’re going to leave the old world behind and take a long trip across the Atlantic Ocean to the two American continents (yes, two continents, not one country).

Boston has its universities, New York is New York, Montreal has cross-continental appeal and the likes of Buenos Aires and Mexico City hold an undeniable Latin charm. But – and you know where this is going – there are some other cities in this rankings whose names may not be as familiar but are still some of the best student cities out there. Well, they wouldn’t be in QS Best Student Cities otherwise, would they?

Without further ado, then, here are three cities in the Americas that you may not have considered!


“Vancouver”, sang Gram Parsons in The Flying Burrito Brothers’ lap steel classic, ‘My Uncle’, “may be just my kind of town.” Okay, so he was singing about escaping from military conscription, but hey, he was on to something. The coastal city, the third biggest urban area in Canada, is consistently ranked among the best places in the world in which to live.

It’s a good choice for lovers of nature, and is often used as a base for those looking to enjoy the greens, blues and whites of western Canada’s great outdoors. Mountains, lakes, rivers and ocean; British Columbia, the province in which Vancouver serves as the primary urban hub, has them all!

But this is a city we’re talking about, not a campsite, and urbanites will have plenty to be happy about too. Much like the northwestern bit of the US just over the border, there’s plenty of café culture to be enjoyed.

But that’s not the only type of culture on offer. As readers of Pitchfork Media may know, the city has been a rather fertile breeding ground for alternative musicians over the years, and you’ll probably find plenty more knocking around the streets of trendy SoMa. The city’s symphony orchestra is held in very high regard, and the film festival is one of North America’s biggest.

Add in plenty of nightlife, and two of the world’s strongest universities in the University of British Columbia (ranked 45 in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings), and Simon Fraser University (282), and perhaps Vancouver might just seem like it could be your type of town…

For more information about studying in Canada, please click here.


Okay, I tried to start this with a song lyric too, but between Will Smith getting roughed up in the ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and the dark themes of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ I couldn’t really find a good one. So let’s leave that, shall we?

Anyway… Philadelphia is perhaps best known for being the setting for many of the most significant events in the United States’ independence movement, and much of the city’s tourist trade is built around its rich history. Independence Hall, in which the Declaration of Independence was signed, and Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest residential street in the country are among the many attractions on offer.

Oh, and you can always recreate Rocky’s run up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (but actually go in the museum after; it’s one of the country’s biggest, y’know?).

But when you’re done with history and museums, and have refueled on a robust Philly cheesesteak (cheese and steak in a sub, natch), it’s time to go check out all the rest this sprawling metropolis has to offer. The City of Brotherly Love is known for its thriving music and theatre scenes, and sports fans will find plenty to distract themselves with between the city’s professional and college level teams. The city is also an up-and-coming foodie Mecca, so it’s not all steak and cheese hoagies!

University-wise, the most famous institution in the city is Ivy League member the University of Pennsylvania (12). But there’s strength in depth in this town, which is also home to Drexel University (401-450), Temple University (551-600) as well as many other smaller, less research orientated institutions.

Want to see which top US city most suits you? Take our US city quiz today. Or, alternatively, visit our US country guide.


And now we continue our journey south all the way to the continent of South America, where we find the capital of Chile, Santiago. A clean, safe, modern metropolis (earthquakes have done for much of the city’s historical architecture) spectacularly set in the Andes, Santiago is often thought of as something of a Buenos Aires-lite.

However, the smaller city has plenty to offer the international student. For one thing, you will not be left wanting for any of that Latin American je ne sais quoi. Craft markets, distinctive multicultural cuisine, music and dancing until dawn (the Chilean national dance and the accompanying music is called the cueca); Santiago has it all. The region in which it based is also known for its wine, and with Chilean grapes considered among the finest the New World, lovers of the red stuff in particular will have plenty to be happy about.

There are plenty of museums dotted about, and the in terms of cultural heft, you can’t argue with the city that produced Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral and Roberto Bolaño, can you?

If urban life becomes a strain you can always head out either the Andes or the smaller ranges to west for some outdoor activities, or alternatively to the beach (this being Chile, the coast is never far away) for some hardcore relaxation.

The city is a big hitter in terms of universities, being home to three of Chile’s seven ranking institutions in 2012/13 QS World University Rankings: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (195), Universidad de Chile (225), Universidad de Santiago de Chile (451-500).

For more information about studying in Latin America, click here.

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