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Facts you never knew about famous people who have studied abroad

Find out where in the world these famous people have studied

emma and gwyn


What have Bill Clinton, Emma Watson and YOU got in common? You all have an interest in study abroad! By throwing themselves into new cultures, celebrities the world over have broadened their horizons, gained job opportunities and even learnt new languages. Let’s take a look at who studied where...


Emma Watson:  Brown University

In 2014, Emma graduated with a degree in English Literature from Brown University. Intent on making up for lost years of study while filming the Harry Potter films, Emma was drawn to the USA by the broad curriculum at its universities.

Emma Watson study abroad fact 
Emma may be worth £30 million, but she still gets first-day nerves.
“On the first day, I walked into the canteen and everyone went completely silent and turned around to look at me. I had to say to myself, 'It's OK, you can do this. You just have to take a deep breath and gather your courage," she told the Sunday Times.

Other famous names to study in the USA:

  • Penelope Cruz. The Spanish actress spent four years studying theatre at Cristina Rota's New York school.

Bill Clinton: Oxford University

At 22 the former US President won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford for two years. More recently his daughter Chelsea followed in his footsteps and has a Masters and PhD from Oxford.  As part of her studies, Chelsea even wrote a thesis on her father’s mediation of the 1998 Northern Ireland peace agreement.


Bill Clinton study abroad fact
Bill once claimed to have read over 300 books a year during his Oxford days.

Other famous names to study in the UK:



Matthew McConaughey: gap year

As a teenager Matthew spent a year studying in Australia after craving a change of scenery. The Dallas Buyers Club star claims his time in Australia helped him develop a sense of humour, a relaxed nature and a passion for stepping outside his comfort zone.


Matthew McConaughey study abroad fact
Matthew took on a total of 11 jobs during his time in Australia including washing dishes and cleaning up chicken manure.



J.K. Rowling  University of Exeter

The Harry Potter author took up French and Classics at the University of Exeter which included a year studying in Paris as part of her degree.


J.K. Rowling study abroad fact
J.K.’s parents wanted her to study languages rather than English Literature as they didn’t think it could yield a proper career. Maybe they’d disagree now that she’s made $1 billion from writing stories about Harry Potter!

Other famous names to study in France:

  • Bradley Cooper: The Hangover star spent six months perfecting his French in the Aix-en Provence region.
  • Vera Wang: This fashion mogul reignited her passion for art when she spent time studying at the University of Paris-Sorbonne.
  • Tim Rice: The world-famous lyricist spent year at a university in Paris.



Gwyneth Paltrow:  exchange student

When she was 15 Gwyneth studied in Talavera de la Reina as an exchange student. She describes her time in Spain as a “wonderful experience” and now feels a strong connection with the country, calling it her “second home”.

Gwyneth Paltrow study abroad fact
Gwyneth has taught her children Spanish and even has a Spanish version of her lifestyle website

Other famous names to study in Spain:

  • Dan Brown. The author of the Da Vinci Code spent a year studying Art History at the University of Seville.


If these celebrities have inspired you, start your study abroad adventure today:

Study at Brown, like Emma Watson.
Study at Oxford University, like Bill Clinton.
Study at the University of Exeter, like J.K. Rowling.

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About Author

emma and gwyn

Katie Duncan is Editor of Hotcourses Abroad and is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and University of Exeter graduate. Having worked at an English language school in the UK, as an educational consultant in Spain and as a reporter in the international education sector, she is well placed to guide you through your study abroad journey. Katie grew up in Australia, which perhaps explains her unusual reptile collection, comprising of a bearded dragon (Bill) and tortoise (Matilda).