Students going to great lengths to study abroad

Dreaming of a far away land?

Pack your bags, you’re headed to class! The number of college students who choose to study abroad took a hit with the economic decline in recent years, but more students are now deciding to plane it or train it to a new location for a semester or two… and they’re venturing further away than ever before.

The United Kingdom remains the most popular destination for U.S. students, with 31,342 of them travelling there during the 2008/2009 school year. However, according to the annual Open Doors Report published by the Institute of International Education, exotic hot spots are growing in popularity.  China has worked its way into the top 5 most popular places for U.S. students to study abroad, with 13,600 of them spending time there in 2008/2009.

Costa Rica, Argentina, South Africa and India are among the top 25 most popular countries currently.  Kiel Nesbitt, a graduate of Lake Forest College, says it was an easy choice when he decided on the University of Waikato in New Zealand, which is the 20th most popular destination for U.S. students.

“I was definitely considering going to the UK originally.  On the other hand, once New Zealand became an option, there was no competition for consideration,” Nesbitt says.

Nesbitt warns, though, that if you’re going to study abroad, be sure to make the most of it. It could be easy to fall into a pattern of socializing with mostly other U.S. students, rather than immersing yourself in the culture. “Most of the my favorite memories of being in New Zealand were shared with other Americans. With that in mind, perhaps my greatest regret from New Zealand was actually not meeting enough New Zealanders.”


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