Studying Abroad Not Very Popular for US; other countries leading the way in numbers

As I walk into the cafeteria, I hear a group of students speaking in German. When I walk out, I find that the group has been replaced by Japanese students. I walk into the Connection and all I hear is French. I take the elevator to the third floor, walk towards the mailroom, and am bombarded with several distinct accents of the Spanish language. I walk out and find the Brazilians in an excited conversation about the latest soccer game. And this has is the routine of one’s day here on campus.

I’m sure the question everyone wants to know is: how many languages are spoken on campus? However, the real question is: why are there so many international students in the United States?

The benefits of studying abroad are obvious. Vistawide provides ten reasons for students to experience education in a country not one’s own. Out of these 10, eight focus on the overall experience and the benefits of a new environment. Studying abroad brings challenges and students that are able to excel in this distinct atmosphere, gain much more than a degree.

However, this degree is much more than a certificate verifying the completion of a four-year education. “The value of an American degree is much more than a degree from my native country.” International students admit that an American degree, almost ANY American degree, looks better on a resume than a university from home.

The degree may be more valuable, but is the education? Education systems vary from school district to school district. My belief is that education varies from country to country as well (that’s a bit obvious, but bear with me).

A friend of mine studied in Madrid for a semester. In that semester, she traveled to incredible places, improved her Spanish accent, and became accustomed to a new diet and atmosphere. She wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Yet, only 4 percent of American students ever take the opportunity to study abroad, whether it is a month, semester, or four years. Compare that to the 94,563 students from India that came to the US in the year 07-08. In total, 623,805 students made their way from countries all over the globe to study at American colleges and universities during the 07-08 academic year.

What’s missing? Or rather, what isn’t missing? Security is a great incentive. Staying at home is much safer than traveling the world, no matter how magnificent it may be. After all, who wants to see the Egyptian pyramids or the Eiffel Tower? I guess traveling is overrated. I wonder when the same will happen to education.

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