Surrounded by the historical cities of Kyoto and Nara to the east and Kobe to the west, Osaka is the center of finance, trade, and cultural exchange in western Japan. The city presents visitors with an eclectic blend of the old, the new, and the totally unique. Osaka’s ports have been the destination point of domestic trade routes as well as sea routes that have linked the city to the world for the past 1,400 years. Osaka functioned as the nation’s capital in ancient times, and its distinctive history has given birth to unique types of traditional art, entertainment, and cuisine. Kobe is the sixth largest city in Japan and is a prominent port city. It is located in the Kansai region of Japan and is part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area. Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is considered one of Japan’s most attractive cities.
Bilbao is located in the north of Spain near the French border and has an international airport with direct flights to most large cities in Europe. Both Bilbao and Getxo (where most of the housing placements are located) are situated in an area of beautiful green mountains that face the ocean, making it possible to hike in the morning and go swimming in the afternoon. Close by, there are several picturesque coastal towns with great beaches that are easily accessible by public transportation. Bilbao is the poster city for successful urban renewal and the spectacular Guggenheim Museum of Art has ushered in an era of international tourism to the area; in urban renewal circles, the use of a revitalized cultural sector to kick start the renewal of a city’s economy is known as the “Bilbao effect.” Bilbao is home to some of the world’s most renowned architecture including: Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Music Hall and Convention Centre, Norman Foster’s Underground, Calatrava’s Bilbao airport, and other projects by architects such as Arata Isozaki and Cesar Pelli. Additionally, the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation has given its approval to expand around Urdaibai's Natural Reserve area. Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country with a population of approximately 350,000; the greater Bilbao region has just under 1,000,000 inhabitants. Bilbao was recently recognized by the Eurostat report as one of the top three safest areas in the EU. It is an extremely walkable city with a great transportation system that is efficient and safe. The city includes many pedestrian areas, including the old quarter with shops, restaurants, and coffee houses. There is also a bike path along the riverfront and through the main street of town. Getxo is a charming, coastal community popular for its beaches, lively nightlife, and diverse cultural activities. It is well connected to downtown Bilbao by subway (20-25 minutes away). Getxo is a relatively young town—80% of the population is below the age of 60—and it is not touristy, maximizing the opportunity for students to meet local peers. Getxo is known for its numerous outdoor activities and cultural events including: surfing, canoeing, hiking, rollerblading, paragliding, music festivals, a medieval market, and much more.
Unnamed Road, Mount Abundance QLD 4455, Australia
Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool are all in the state of Victoria. Victoria is Australia’s smallest mainland state but has the second largest population, with approximately 5.2 million people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It is a place of great contrasts—ocean beaches and mountain ranges, deserts and forests, volcanic plains and vast sheep and wheat farms. Victoria has national parks and forests teeming with wildlife; wineries, lakes and mountains offering climbing, hiking and skiing and the magnificent Great Ocean Road coastline, Australia’s premier surfing destination. The state has long been regarded as the cultural center of Australia, with a historic architectural elegance that characterizes the capital, Melbourne, and the regional cities. Victorians combine a strong cultural tradition with a contemporary and relaxed lifestyle, a distinct sense of community and a passionate interest in sports. Victoria also is the major center of education and research in Australia.