Italian in Italy or Switzerland.
For true Mediterranean culture you could happily study in Italy with lots of sun, good food and wine, world class art and architecture and a very relaxed life. Or go for the Italian Alps and adjacent Italian speaking parts of the Swiss Alps.
This is also quite a sexy tongue, with lots of arm waving, and not too difficult as its related to English. But it’s not a useful travel language.
See: Italy Travel Guide | Switzerland Travel Guide
German in Germany or Austria.
Germany is the most populous country in the European Union and the language the most spoken in the EU overall, where its popularity as a foreign language is second only to English.
Germany is important economically, so it’s tops for business and Austria is gorgeous.
The language, however, is famously harsh and unattractive – a language of command rather than discussion – and not particularly useful for world travel. But. . . Vienna is gorgeous!
See: Austria Guide
Russian in Russia.
Unfortunately not as good a language for business as the Russians would like, nevertheless the Russian Bear is now a free market economy and has some wonderful cities to explore, with St Petersburg and Moscow at the top of the list, though Moscow is now one of the most expensive cities in the world. Russian is a difficult language and uses a different alphabet.
Arabic in Egypt, Morocco, or Oman.
Fascinating cultures – though respect for both Islam and the local government is imperative – and warm, hospitable people, combine with low cost of living to make these destinations of great interest – if Arabic wasn’t so difficult, what with the funny alphabet and strange gargling sounds necessary. Difficult, but not impossible, and easier than Chinese or Japanese. Arab men can be aggressive towards single girls, so these places may be a problem unless you’re prepared to wrap up your assets.
See: Egypt | Morocco | Oman
Chinese in China or Taiwan.
Chinese is the most spoken first language in the world, and it’s likely to be increasingly important as China looks set to take over from USA as the world’s leading power this century.
Mandarin Chinese is what you need to learn for business, but Cantonese is the less formal version you tend to hear. Both are written in the same way, a non-Roman alphabet that is a memory nightmare, as are the variable tones essential for comprehensible communication.
So, cheap living, great food, great sights and a language with a future, but difficult to master and not useful for travel otherwise.
Japanese in Japan.
A fallen star economically speaking, but the Japanese are still business giants in the car and electronics industries and Tokyo is still a global financial centre.
What’s more the culture combines tradition with an eclectic and wacky modern day mix of oriental and western, and it is very, very safe.
The language is tricky, being totally unrelated to Romance languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian), but worse is the writing, which requires memorisation of thousands of characters. The characters (ideograms) are fascinating but you’ll need 5, 000 to read a newspaper.
So, a very safe and interesting country with wonderful food, but a dog of a language and high accommodation costs.
See: Japan Guide
Portuguese in Portugal or Brazil.
Not much of an EU business powerhouse but Portugal is a good place to head for sunshine in Europe and cheap too.
Cross over to Latin America and Spanish is ubiquitous apart from Brazil where Portuguese is the mother tongue and a fairly easy language to master but not much use for either worldwide business or travel.