The US: Ten Things To Do

QS Staff Writer

更新日期 September 13, 2021 更新日期 September 13

It's hard to stick to just 10 things when making a list of what to do while studying abroad in the US, but we just about managed! At the very least, we think our list can serve as a starting point from which you can make your own discoveries about this huge and varied country.

With dozens of the nation’s top universities featuring in the QS World University Rankings, the US is the prime destination for many students worldwide who wish to study abroad. Each one of the 50 states has its own unique culture and character that will enrich any undergraduate experience.

Activities outside the lecture theatre will vary depending on which area you end up in – from the manic energy of Manhattan or downtown Los Angeles, to the laid-back hipster scene of San Francisco and the California coast; the scholarly seclusion of the Ivy League campuses, to the unique atmosphere of New Orleans and the Deep South.

1. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to LA... and beyond!

Location: California

Nearest universities: Caltech; Stanford University; UCLA; Berkeley; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Santa Barbara;  University of California, Davis; University of Southern California; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Santa Cruz; University of California, Riverside

From The Wizard of Oz to Easy Rider to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road - nothing is more quintessentially American than a road-trip. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway – otherwise known as Highway 1 -  to experience the famous sandy beaches of California, the unique culture of San Francisco (home of flower power), and the buzzing urban sprawl of Los Angeles.

If you have time on your side and are feeling intrepid, carry on further south, to the searing heat, arid landscape and secluded beaches of northern Mexico and the Baja California coast.

2. See the Fall colors of New England

Location: New England

Nearest universities: Harvard University; Yale University; MIT; Brown University; Boston University; Dartmouth College; Tufts University; Brandeis University; University of Massachusetts, Amhurst; University of Connecticut; Boston College; Northeastern University; Smith College; University of Vermont

Fall in New England comes early in the year and transforms the deciduous forests that cover areas such as Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire into a kaleidoscope of red, orange, yellow and green foliage.

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains, and containing many of the most prestigious universities in the nation (and indeed the world), New England could be the perfect place to inspire you to more profound academic meditations, to brush up your photography skills, or simply to go for a long drive and take it all in.

3. Visit the Kennedy Space Center

Location: Merrit Island, Florida

Nearest universities: University of Florida; University of Miami; Florida State University;

Even if you’re not a sci-fi fanatic, an astrophysicist or a UFO conspiracy theorist, spaceships are undeniably cool. Whether you are there to learn about black holes and supernovas, or to experience zero gravity with the Shuttle Launch Experience (a simulation ride into space), visit the Kennedy Space Centre for a glimpse into the scientific forefront of human endeavour.

And while you’re in Florida, you can take the opportunity to check out the dolphins and killer whales at SeaWorld Orlando. Or don your snappiest linen suit and biggest sunglasses, and check out the beach scene in Miami.

4. Marvel at American history in the US's political capital - Washington, D.C.

Nearest universities: George Washington University; Howard University; Georgetown University

If you had been a fly on the wall in the Whitehouse, you would have witnessed some of the moments and decisions that shaped the course of recent world history – from the Watergate scandal and the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the inauguration of the first African-American President, Barack Obama.

While studying Stateside will not automatically give you access to classified information (you’ll need to join the FBI for that), it will provide you with a perfect opportunity to further familiarize yourself with the history of the world’s most powerful modern nation. Visit Washington D.C. and you can not only marvel at the architectural grandeur of the US capital, but also have the chance to buy an item of novelty stars-and-stripes inspired clothing to take home.

5. Hit the slopes of Colorado

Nearest universities: University of Colorado at Boulder; Colorado State University

According to the Dictionary of Snowboarding Terms and Definitions, a ‘Colorado slide’ means "Coming to a halt by sliding your board between someone else’s bindings, intentionally or otherwise".

Whether you’re taking your first tentative steps onto the slope, or you’re already at the stage of showboating for the cameras, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado offer a seriously impressive backdrop against which to brush up your ski or snowboarding skills. You can also enjoy the vibrant post-ski party culture, a great way to wind down and make plenty of friends in your new home.

6. Take in the energy of New York, New York

Nearest universities: Columbia University ; Cornell University ; New York University ; University of Rochester ; Stony Brook University ; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ; City University of New York ; Yeshiva University ; University at Buffalo SUNY ;

It’s a little-known fact, but New York is so nice they actually named it twice. It also never sleeps. Known as the ‘Big Apple’, New York City is one of the cultural capitals of the world – immortalized in literature: think John Dos Passos,  Tom Wolfe and Don DeLillo; in art: think Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein; in television:  Friends, Seinfeld, Sex and the City;  film: names such as Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola are synonymous with New York; and not least in music, from Frank Sinatra to Lou Reed to Jay Z.

Whether you want to check out the dizzying energy of Manhattan and Times Square, take a drive out to picturesque Long Island (and, if you’re over 21, sip one of their famous cocktails), or check out the thriving cultural scene of up-and-coming Brooklyn - immersing yourself in the cultural melting pot of America’s largest city is an experience you will never forget.

7. Visit one of the natural wonders of the world - the Grand Canyon

Nearest universities: University of Arizona ; Arizona State University ; University of New Mexico ;

It may be one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but visiting the Grand Canyon feels like a trip to another planet. You can go for a day-trip to check out the views from the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West – a glass viewing platform suspended 4,000 feet above the canyon floor.

Or really get in touch with nature and go on an organized expedition. With activities including white water rafting, hiking, running and helicopter tours, there is enough to keep even the most rugged of explorers happy. If you are visiting in the summer, make sure you bring lots of water and sun cream – it can get seriously hot!

8. Experience the Southern States – from the music of New Orleans to the footsteps of Martin Luther King

Location: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee

New Orleans jazz and Mississippi Delta blues, freight trains and Baptist preachers, Billie Holiday and Elvis Presley, not to mention the slavery plantations, Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement – you can experience it all in the Southern States with their unique character and history.

Parts of the South – such as the Deep South, and the conservative ‘Bible belt’ - are stereotyped as backward and isolated. But the reality is that the South encompasses a huge geographical area with a massive range of different cultures and many top-ranking universities.

9. Even if you're not studying at one of them, explore the US's ‘Ivy League’ universities

Nearest universities: Brown University; Columbia University; Cornell University; Dartmouth College; Harvard University; Princeton University; University of Pennsylvania; Yale University

The term ‘Ivy League’ originally referred to an athletic conference in which eight universities took part: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. However, it has since come to refer to the traditional elite of the US university system.

Though several non-Ivy League schools now rank just as highly in the QS World University Rankings (e.g. University of Chicago, MIT and Caltech), the Ivy League schools are the ‘old money’ of the US system. Still considered to be among the leading universities in the world, they are renowned for their extreme competitiveness, huge resources and lavish facilities.

Even if you are not studying at one of them, the unique atmosphere and beautiful campuses of these historic institutions are not to be missed.

10. Take a tour through Hollywood

Location: Los Angeles, California
Nearest universities: Caltech; Stanford University; UCLA; Berkeley; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Santa Barbara;  University of California, Davis; University of Southern California; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Santa Cruz; University of California, Riverside

Whether you’re into Citizen Kane or Avatar, a trip to Hollywood is an essential pilgrimage for the hardcore film-buff and casual cinema-goer alike. Hollywood has produced many of the icons of popular culture, and is still mass-producing cinema at as great a rate as ever.

Organized tour itineraries include visits to world-famous studios such as Sony Pictures and Universal, as well as the homes of the many movie-stars who live nearby. You can stroll down the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, see the red-carpet of the Oscars, and check out the similarly wealthy suburbs of Beverley Hills and Bel-Air. If you’re feeling more adventurous, head toward the hustle and bustle of downtown LA, take in a baseball game at the Dodger Stadium, or get lost in Chinatown.

Once you’ve finished those:

- Put your sparkly red shoes on and head to Kansas City - you never know what adventure may await you in the Midwest

- Let the kid in you out at Disneyland

- Visit Las Vegas and Death Valley (only if you can stand the heat!)

- Check out an NFL, baseball or basketball match

- Try and visit all 50 US states while you're there!

US top universities by region

1) Northeast: Harvard University; Yale University; MIT; Princeton University; Brown University; Boston University; Dartmouth College; Tufts University; Brandeis University; University of Massachusetts, Amhurst; University of Connecticut; Boston College; Northeastern University; Smith College; University of Vermont; Columbia University; University of Pennsylvania; Cornell University; Carnegie Mellon University ; New York University; University of Pittsburgh; Pennsylvania State University ; University of Rochester ; Stony Brook University ; Rutgers; University of Notre Dame ; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; City University of New York ; Yeshiva University ;  Drexel University ; Lehigh University; University at Buffalo SUNY;

2) Midwest: University of Chicago ; University of Michigan ; Northwestern University ; University of Wisconsin-Madison ; University of Illinois ; Washington University in St Louis; Purdue University ; University of Minnesota ; Case Western Reserve University ; Ohio State University; Indiana University, Bloomington ; Michigan State University ; University of Iowa ; University of Cincinnati ; Iowa State University; Illinois Institute of Technology ; Loyola University Chicago; University of Kansas; University of Missouri; University of Nebraska

3) South: John Hopkins University ; Duke University ; University of Texas at Austin ; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Georgia Institute of Technology ; Rice University ; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Virginia ; Vanderbilt University ; Texas A&M University ; University of Florida ; Wake Forest University ; University of Miami ; North Carolina State University ; Tulane University ; Virginia Polytechnic Institute ; University of Alabama ; University of Georgia ; Florida State University ; University of Tennessee ; University of Delaware ; University of Houston ; University of Kentucky ; University of South Carolina ; Virginia Commonwealth University ; William & Mary ; George Washington University; Howard University; Georgetown University; University of Oklahoma;

4) West: Caltech; Stanford University; UCLA; Berkeley; University of California, San Diego; University of Washington; University of California, Santa Barbara;  University of California, Davis; University of Southern California; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Santa Cruz;University of California, Riverside; University of Arizona ; University of Colorado at Boulder ; University of Utah ; Washington State University; Arizona State University ; Colorado State University ; University of New Mexico ; University of Oregon

本文首发于 2012 November , 更新于 2021 September 。

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