Foreign students examine benefits of studying in U.S.July 16, 2014
Upon returning from a study abroad trip, many American students spin tales of foreign countries and positive experiences. Eating baguettes in France, snapping pictures in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and drinking Sangria in Spain seem to come along with the territory.
But, what do international students studying in America find when they study here? Do they regale their friends with anecdotes about eating Big Macs, checking out Times Square and watching reality television? Or, are they disappointed with our culture?
A 2012 U.S. News survey reported 764,495 students came to study in America that year, a 6% increase from year's prior. As this number increases, some wonder about the benefits of studying in the USA.
One reason students pick America to study is the country's strong reputation when it comes to higher education. Thirteen of the 20 best world universities are located on American soil, according to Quacquarelli Symonds World University ranking.
Anthony Bailey, the vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, says this is true for many of his school's international students.
"The U.S. has a lot of top universities and that is a big draw," he says. "There are so many education options here."
Bailey says many countries simply do not have this much educational diversity. But, he says he believes studying in almost any foreign country can be beneficial.
José Saldaña, a rising senior at the Santa Maria La Antigua University in Panama City, Panama, came to study American University in Washington D.C., last fall. He says he came for the education and the culture.
"I wanted to experience the American educational methodology and besides this, the college lifestyle which has a lot of different things that my university does not have, such as dorms and fraternities," says the law and political science major.
He says the experience helped him embrace diversity and grow personally and academically. Saldaña says he would recommend studying in the United States.
"I got to see so many different historic places and government offices and even got to know actual lawyers," he says.
He also says he found citizens to be polite and friendly, especially his classmates at AU.
A study by MediaPathway.net, an overseas educational firm, outlined many benefits to a stateside education. Among them were worldwide recognition of school names, technology and hands-on training.
The site says that American schools, unlike many others internationally, provide job connections within a student's major.
Vessela Velinova, a senior international business major at University of National and World Economy in Sofia, Bulgaria, also studied at AU last year. She won this opportunity through a scholarship.
She describes the year as the time of her life — she says she learned a lot and had fun.
"I learned how to adapt to a different society and how to communicate more effectively," she says. "I had an internship during the second semester and that helped me to learn more about the American working culture and how fast-paced it is."
Velinova says she was able to travel across the country and meet many Americans.
And despite her country of choice, her final opinion sounded very familiar to a starry-eyed American student fresh off a plane from Europe.
"The past year made me more independent, more mature and more determined about what I want to accomplish in life," she says. "I would definitely recommend such an experience to anyone."