Although many American universities strongly promote their study abroad programs, the number of American students who actually spend a semester or year abroad studying is very low. Only 14 percent of students who graduated in 2011 studied abroad, only 1 percent of which stayed in the foreign country for a whole year.
Among all countries, the United Kingdom is the most popular study abroad destination, which may suggest that American students fear challenging themselves to live in a more culturally different environment.
The following most popular study abroad destinations are Italy, Spain and France, respectively. Not surprisingly, 55 percent of American students choose to study abroad in Europe. Indeed, there is great value in choosing the occidental, history-rich continent to explore and immerse in different lifestyles.
Since Europe is also a prime backpacking destination, it makes sense why American students would be lured to its adventurous, carefree environment. In addition, Europe holds great political and economic power, which attracts students of International Relations and related areas of studies.
But not only should there be a greater effort to increase the numbers of American study abroad students, but also to encourage more of them to explore countries that are more culturally different than American and there aren’t as popular for touristic attractions. For instance, a student does not have to go to England to explore Europe – he could choose Poland, Sweden or Hungary instead.
Statistics also show that male college students are the least likely to study abroad, something that resonates so true to me, as my study abroad group for next semester only has one man. One out of more than twenty!
Studying abroad is the type of experience whose value one truly discovers only once it’s done. For this reason, students who do study abroad should do their best to share their experiences with others, whether it be by blogging, making videos, or finding other ways to be vocal on campus about the lessons learned and opinions gained while studying abroad. If each student better understood the benefits of leaving his comfort zone, making friends of completely different backgrounds, and acclimating himself to a new environment, I bet many more would want to join the journey.
Source: CBS News
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