10 International Fellowships Off the Beaten Path

Apr 09, 2024
Rowan Glass, a young man, winner of multiple fellowships, wearing a leather jacket, green baseball cap, jeans, and leather boots, stands on a cliffside overlooking a large reservoir in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, during his international off the beaten path travel.
Rowan Glass traveled to Kyrgyzstan in 2021, a Central Asian country full of rich experiences but well off the beaten path.

By Rowan Glass

With international tourism reaching 90% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023 and the US issuing a record number of passports last year, 2024 is poised to see an even greater increase in international travel. However, topping the list of 2024’s most popular tourism destinations are sure to be the regular suspects, which are usually wealthy countries in the Global North.

While there’s nothing wrong with visiting countries like France and Spain for a European holiday, I’m a big proponent of people getting outside their comfort zones and visiting countries you might not otherwise see, whether for tourism or professional development. My travels have taken me to less-visited countries in Latin America, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Africa—places well and truly off the typical tourist radar like Paraguay, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Senegal. Visiting these places has given me experiences and perspectives I haven’t gained from my trips to more popular destinations. Professionally and academically speaking, they’ve also opened doors for me that other locations haven’t. For these reasons, traveling off the beaten path for a fellowship program might not just be a formative personal experience but also a great professional development opportunity.

If you, like me, are interested in seeking adventure and new experiences in countries off the beaten path, check out these 10 international fellowships in countries that most travelers may never visit.

Senegal WARC Library Fellowship

Topping the list is a library studies fellowship in Dakar, Senegal—speaking from experience, one of the most bustling cities in West Africa and a great entry point to sub-Saharan Africa. Senegal is a fascinating country straddling the edge of West Africa and the Sahel. With other 30 ethnic groups with diverse languages and cultures packed into this small country, there’s a lot to discover in the land of Teraanga.

The WARC Library Fellowship provides experience in West Africa for practicing librarians and the next generation of Africana librarians and assists in capacity building at the library of the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, Senegal. The Fellow will work on electronic cataloging and electronic research databases and should have well-developed skills in these areas. The Fellowship lasts 6-8 weeks in June and July. Fellows are US citizens and recent graduates, graduate students, or practicing librarians, ideally with a working knowledge of French. Round-trip travel to Dakar and a stipend of $2,500 are provided.

Rowan Glass, wearing a blue button-up shirt and jeans, stands on a large stone staircase leading to the towering African Renaissance Statue in Dakar, Senegal, during his fellowship program.
Rowan Glass spent two months interning and learning French in Senegal in 2023 on the Gilman Scholarship, introducing him to West Africa.

Armenia Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellowships

Armenia is a fascinating, culturally unique country with a long and turbulent history. The food, a mix of Caucasian, Soviet, and Middle Eastern influences, is hard to beat—and you’ve got to try the pomegranate wine. 

The Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellowships is a program for artists across all disciplines and from anywhere globally. The program seeks to cultivate creators on the front lines of Armenia’s cultural future by providing a full support package. This includes a $5,000 stipend, mentorship, industry connections, and promotion for innovative artists of Armenian origin (or who have a demonstrated interest in Armenian culture).

Guatemala Alterna Impact Fellowship Program

Guatemala stands out in Latin America for its high proportion of Indigenous population—nearly half the country belongs to one of numerous Maya communities. Despite its small size, this Central American country is tightly packed with cultural and geographic diversity. 

The Alterna Impact Fellowship is a 360º program that connects extraordinary international talent with change catalyzers in Latin America and the Caribbean. The program seeks to promote the business and impact investment sectors by articulating three fundamental axes: professional skills, immersive experience, and a high-level global network. The program points towards enhancing and catalyzing environmental and social impact around the world. Ideally, applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree with an MBA or MA. The program offers life insurance and medical expenses, travel expenses related to program activities, and a support stipend based on Guatemala’s local cost of living.

Hungary Budapest Fellowship Program

Hungary, a linguistically and culturally unique country at the crossroads of Central and Eastern Europe, is one of the hidden gems of Europe. With a distinctive culture going back to the nomadic steppe warriors who founded the country in the Middle Ages, there’s plenty in Hungary to keep the curious visitor interested.

The Budapest Fellowship Program is a full-time, fully-funded transatlantic fellowship opportunity in Budapest, Hungary, for senior graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and early career professionals. The goal of the 10-month program is to cultivate the next generation of American policy professionals and equip them with a thorough understanding of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Hungary. The program will offer extensive professional and personal networking opportunities, and fellows will be matched with local mentors to guide them during their fellowship journey. The scholarship provides a monthly stipend to cover living expenses in Budapest. March 15 is the early deadline.

Ghana Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology Fellowship

Ghana, a West African country that was the first African nation to gain independence, is one of Africa’s most developed and frequently visited countries. As the official language is English, it’s also more accessible to many visitors than other countries in the region. Ghana is known for its openness to visitors and lush tropical forests with rich biodiversity.

Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is seeking candidates with a passion for teaching and a strong background in technology and/or entrepreneurship for a one-year assignment teaching and mentoring talented African entrepreneurs in software development fundamentals. Fellows will work and live in Accra, Ghana. Eligible applicants should be proficient in object-oriented programming (OOP) language and have experience building scalable applications. Travel, a monthly stipend, housing, meals, and Emergency Health Insurance are provided by MEST.

Nepal Teach for Nepal Fellowship

Nestled deep in the Himalayas between India and China, Nepal—the birthplace of the Buddha—is a country with a profound history and unique culture. It’s also chock-full of cultural diversity, meaning a trip to different parts of the country will never be boring.

The Teach For Nepal fellowship is a two-year-long, full-time paid employment opportunity. Fellows teach in public schools and bring about academic achievement and transformative impact on their students while harnessing their leadership skills. Fellowship placements will all be in government and community schools in Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk, and Dhanusha districts, and comes with a Rs.466,000 stipend. Eligibility requirements include a Bachelor’s degree, the ability to work in Nepal for two years, and a commitment to the full duration of the fellowship.

Finland Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Award in Health and Environmental Sciences

In the frigid far north of Europe, situated between the Nordic-speaking Scandinavian countries to the west, Baltic-speaking countries to the south, and Slavic-speaking Russia to the east, linguistically unique Finland is an outlier. In fact, one of the Finnish language’s closest relatives is also on this list: Hungarian. Like Hungary, Finland is one of a kind among European countries.

The Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Grant in Health and Environmental Sciences is available for lecturing and research visits for 5-9 months at the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio. Disciplines include Medical Sciences, Global Health, Pharmacy, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Health, Environmental and Medical Physics, Biosciences, and Nursing Science. The award includes free housing arranged and paid for by the University of Eastern Finland, starting September or January. The rank of full or associate professor with a PhD (or other terminal degrees such as MFA, JD, or MD) is required. The allowance is 5000 Euro/month.

Sri Lanka LankaCorps Fellowship Program

In the Indian Ocean to the southeast of the subcontinent sits the island country of Sri Lanka. Like many countries on this list, Sri Lanka is culturally diverse, reflecting its rich and storied history as a place of encounter between East and West. Like Nepal, Sri Lanka is an important place in the history of Buddhism; both countries are common pilgrimage sites for devout Buddhists.

LankaCorps is a unique opportunity for young leaders of Sri Lankan heritage to engage professionally in social, cultural, and economic development activities in Sri Lanka. The program aims to foster the involvement and understanding of young members of the expatriate Sri Lankan community who have limited in-depth experience with the country of their heritage. The fellowship invites applicants with Sri Lankan heritage, ages 21-30, who hold a bachelor’s degree to apply. LankaCorps Fellows live and work for six months in Sri Lanka, granting them the unique chance to “explore their roots while giving back.”

Myanmar INYA Short-Term Fellowship Program for US Graduate Students

Myanmar, the only Southeast Asian country on this list, is something of a transition zone; its culture and history reflect a mix of influences from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, Myanmar has suffered from long-running conflict and strife. However, if one can brave the country’s political instability, they’ll find a rich culture with plenty to hold one’s interest.

This fellowship funds research that will contribute to studies on Myanmar in any aspect of its wide linguistic, cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity and to better understand the country’s past or present political and socio-economic situation. Applicants must be U.S. graduate students currently enrolled in a graduate program. Fellows are awarded $2,400 to $4,400 for a maximum of 4 months, a travel stipend of up to $1,700, a desk at the Inya Institute in Yangon, and access to the institute’s library and amenities.

Panama Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Short-term Fellowships

Panama, strategically located at the isthmus that separates North America from South America, is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world by area. It’s also home to the famous Panama Canal, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes. For the nature enthusiasts out there, you could do little better than landing a fellowship in this tropical paradise.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI) in Panama allows selected candidates to come to STRI year-round. It is an excellent resource to support graduate students and introduce them to tropical research. Although focused primarily on graduate students, awards are occasionally given to undergraduate and postdoctoral candidates. These fellowships enable selected candidates to work in the tropics and explore research possibilities. Fellowships may provide a modest stipend to cover living expenses, currently $800/month.

Multi fellowship winner, Rowan Glass, wearing a panama hat and a white button-up shirt, stands in a jungle clearing with the Amazon River visible in the background.
Rowan Glass in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia in 2022. Tropical environments offer great opportunities for fellowships in areas like biology, ecology, and public health.

Rowan Glass HeadshotRowan Glass is an anthropologist, multimedia journalist, writer, and filmmaker from Oregon. His research, reporting, and travels have taken him from Indigenous territories in Colombia and Mexico to primary schools in Senegal, Kurdish restaurants in Greece, and music festivals in Morocco. In all his work, Rowan endeavors to help tell engaging stories about underreported people and places through incisive research and creative endeavors. Whether at a keyboard or behind a camera, at home or in the field, Rowan is always looking for the next chance to apply his skills to both creative and socially impactful ends. Rowan holds a BA in cultural anthropology from the University of Oregon and is currently applying to PhD programs in anthropology.