15 Celebrities Who Were International Students

A combined passion for learning and exploration often leads people abroad as international students. Take inspiration from these celebrities, who explored other cultures and education in new countries on their path to excellence.

1. Desmond Tutu, Kings College London, UK

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu studied a Bachelors and Masters in Theology at Kings College London, from 1960.

“I have wonderful, happy memories of my time at King’s. My experience was one of great encouragement and support in my academic studies and an acceptance and warmth from my fellow students. Study opened up a whole new world to me. I was excited by the accessibility of books, the freedom to question and to debate and the opportunity to listen to the wisdom of minds whose experience and learning left me eager to discover more.”

2. Bill Clinton, Oxford University, UK

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Former American President Bill Clinton studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University, Oxford in 1968.

3. Matthew McConaughey Warnerville, Australia

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Actor Matthew McConaughey, star of True Detective (series one), The Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar and Magic Mike to name just a few of his films, studied abroad on a Rotary International Scholarship. He stayed in Warnerville, New South Wales, Australia.

4. Harper Lee, Oxford University, UK

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Novelist Harper Lee attended Oxford University’s Graduates’ Summer School in 1948, some 12 years prior to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ being published.

5. Natalie Portman, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

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Actress Natalie Portman took graduate courses at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2004.

“I’m going to college. I don’t care if it ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

6. Chris Pine, University of Leeds, UK

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Actor Chris Pine studied English at the University of Leeds, Leeds in 2001.

“I decided to go to England and ended up at Leeds. I lived at 79 Brudenell Rd and had a wonderful time. I loved it. I loved it. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. Beyond having a pub on campus and the nightlife and all of that, I mean, academically I had a good time. I met a bunch of great people.”

7. Alison Brie, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, UK

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Actress Alison Brie, who’s had roles that range from Mad Men through to the Lego Movie, studied Acting at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

“The theatre we did was cutting-edge, very demanding. It taught me to be fearless. Here, I think if you’re a young actor, you get bogged down in going for TV and movie auditions and you’re always doing the same thing. Glasgow opened up my eyes.”

8. Gwyneth Paltrow ,Talavera de la Reina, Spain

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Actress Gwyneth Paltrow studied in an exchange programme in her high school years, at Talavera De La Reina, Spain.

“I went to a small town outside Talavera de la Reina and I had the most wonderful experience. It really changed my life. Spain became a second home. It is so different from the United States. It seemed to have a history, and the buildings are years and years and years old.”

9. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, UK

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Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, UK, in 2000. She had lead roles in many major films including the Dark Knight, Secretary, Donnie Darko and Adaptation.

“I feel so gratified about having finished college. I learned how to articulate myself. It gave me confidence more than anything.”

10. Vera Wang, University of Paris, France

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Fashion Designer Vera Wang spent a year at The University of Paris in France, studying Art History.

11. Mario Testino, University of San Diego, USA

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Photographer Mario Testino studied International Relations at The University of San Diego, San Diego, USA in 1975.

12. Gael García Bernal, Central School of Speech and Drama, UK

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Actor Gael Garcia Bernal studied Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, UK.

“School helped me get my life sorted out, and I came out of there loving the acting profession a whole lot more.”

13. JK Rowling, Exchange Year In France

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Writer of the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling spent a year in France as part of her degree course at The University of Exeter, studying French and Classics.

14. Carrie Fisher, Central School of Speech and Drama, UK

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Actress Carrie Fisher (of Princess Leia, Star Wars fame) studied Acting at The Central School of Speech and Drama in London in 1973.

15. Emma Watson, Brown University, USA

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Emma Watson didn’t neglect her studies despite starring as Hermione in the Harry Potter films. She studied English Literature at Brown University in Providence, in 2011.

“I’ve been very fulfilled by my studies. English has helped me think in an analytical way. It’s helped me see the world from new perspectives. Diving into these stories and characters has given richness to my own life. And now, when I read scripts or look at stories, I have these references for a larger understanding of humanity. I’m sure it will make my job as an actress more interesting.”

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