New York City [New York; population of the City, 7.33 million]
America's largest city and one of the financial and art capitals of the world, New York has it all. The city's unique skyline is interspersed with small neighborhoods of varied ethnic diversity. While many students visit the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, others find the greatest treasures in areas such as Little Italy, Soho, and Chinatown. New York's crime rate dropped dramatically throughout the 1990s, with the most recent World Trade Center tragedy unifying the city as never before. Students can directly view "ground zero" and see memorials to the victims in various places throughout the city. New York continues to thrive with excitement. The city is as welcoming as ever to all visitors.
Los Angeles [California; population L.A., 3.45 million]
Los Angeles is a particularly popular study abroad destination among foreign students. Many students are attracted by its mild and livable year-round climate, its open style unique to the West Coast, and its proximity to other points of interest such as Las Vegas, San Diego, and San Francisco. Most students come to LA with a preconceived image based on the many movies and television shows filmed there. Places like Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Hollywood are where some of the world's most famous films are brought to life. Students often see movie crews on the streets of LA and may be lucky enough to bump into one of the many movie stars who reside in the area. Students also enjoy the endless entertainment opportunities provided by theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, and Knotts Berry Farm. The cool ocean is always inviting, releasing a breeze that few students leave LA without experiencing while rollerblading down Venice Beach. As an educational center, LA is also home to many prestigious universities, including UCLA, USC, and Scripps Colleges.
Seattle [Washington; population of Seattle, 520,000]
Seattle, also known as the Emerald City, is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and is surrounded by water, mountains, and flourishing greenery. These attributes help make Seattle a center of outdoor sports such as mountain climbing/biking, sailing and wind surfing, and skiing. Home to Microsoft and Boeing, Seattle has also become one of America's high tech centers; Seattle is one of the least expensive major cities on the West Coast of North America and is considered to be a safer alternative to many California cities. It is an extremely popular destination for American families and is consistently selected to be one of America's "most livable cities." Many of the language schools in Seattle incorporate outdoor activities in their programs, including such adventure activities as bungee jumping and parasailing.
American society is made up of many people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This mixture of peoples forms a multi-cultural environment that is impossible to reproduce in any other country in the world. Although the positive results of this environment (such as exceptional art, music, literature, etc.) are plentiful and give the US its unique identity, an infrequent amount of crime does exist. Particularly in the urban areas, where cross-cultural interaction is most frequent, students should be aware of their surroundings and avoid visiting areas that appear to, or are said to be dangerous. Teachers and homestay family members, who are familiar with the local area, are a good source of advice and directions regarding which areas to avoid. In general, some of the safest areas can be found in the most rural states. However, regardless of location, students should at first be cautious with unfamiliar settings and avoid those areas that appear to be dangerous. A little caution can make your study abroad experience safe as well as memorable.