Studying away is often one of the most impactful and transformative experiences of a student’s college experience. We’ve all heard the arguments supporting the choice to study away: cultural immersion, personal growth, meeting new people, learning a language, travel, becoming more independent, challenging yourself, the list goes on.

Studying away also presents an opportunity to explore sustainability from a new perspective. Although global in scale, sustainability is often local in practice. In our ever changing world, it’s important to be aware of the impacts your actions have, both on the community you’re studying in and the world as a whole. In this guide, we provide recommendations, tips, and suggestions about how to study away sustainably, whether in a sustainability related program or not.

What do we mean by Sustainability?

Sustainability strives to provide all people with a good quality of life within the constraints of living on a finite planet. Sustainability is defined broadly beyond simply environmental sustainability and takes a systems approach towards understanding the critical linkages between environmental, social, and economic systems, focused at the local and regional level although framed within the national and global context. A sustainability lens can be used to approach any field of study! So regardless of the program you select, there will always be sustainability opportunities and issues to consider.

How to use this guide

This guide is intended to provide you with tips, tricks, and information for making your study away experience more sustainable.

The guide is divided into three sections:

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Before You Go

From picking a program to packing, we have tips for how best to prepare for your journey. Learn the Tips »

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Learn how to best reduce your impact in a variety of different living accommodations. Learn the Tips »

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Returning to Amherst

Welcome home! Here are some exercises or resources to consider now that you are back. Learn the Tips »

We hope you find this guide helpful in supporting your study away journey and experience and that it provides sustainability inspiration and insight and encourages reflection on your actions and impact along the way! If you have questions, reach out to the Office of Sustainability at

Location-Specific Tips from Amherst Students Studying Abroad

A map of the world with six numbers over Uruguay, Argentina, London, Spain, Bhutan and New Zealand.
  1. “In Uruguay, students seem to be at the frontline of their environmental movement. I was especially surprised by my (private) school because their hallways and classrooms were full of environmental facts and suggestions.”
  2. “I used a lot less water in Argentina because my host mom always talked about how we were in a desert.”
  3. “Bins for recycling and composting were always very accessible in London, the country had stricter environmental guidelines around use of plastic and automobiles in the city”
  4. “Energy is really expensive in Spain so the Spanish are super conscious of how much they use.”
  5. Bhutan is carbon negative and very focused on sustainable development. There are many national conservation initiatives such as a constitutional mandate for at least 60% of the country to be eternally covered by forest.”
  6. “In New Zealand, A few of my friends and I volunteered at a CSA and would get farm-fresh vegetables.”