While many Americans students relish the opportunity to study abroad in a foreign country, on the flip-side, many international students are trying to make their way into American educational institutions.
The number of international students attending school in the United States has steady risen the past five years and now totals 720,000 students, according to a report by the Institute of International Education released in November.
The largest number of international students come from Asia, with 23% more Chinese students entering the United States during the 2010-2011 school year than last school year, according to the IIE.
California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Texas are the most popular destination locations for foreign students studying in America.
Many international students, like 25-year-old dance student Lee Broda from Israel who currently attends Los Angeles City College, come to America for the unique opportunities that exist here.
Broda, who completed a conservatory program at LACC, first explored the idea of attending school in New York.
International students, like Broda, face many of the same challenges as other students as well as problems unique to their situation including different social and cultural atmospheres.
Broda, who was 6-years-old during the first Iraq war, remembers crouching in her family’s basement wearing a gas mask. She was upset to discover an anti-Israeli protest taking place on her school campus.
“I always feel like I’m an Israeli ambassador without really volunteering for the part,” said Broda.
As an added pressure, international students attending school in the United States for the first time arrive in the country directly before registration dates when most classes have already been filled.
“Like other students, they have a hard time getting classes because of the budget cuts,” said Abigail Sandico, director of international student services at Los Angeles Pierce College. Sandico oversees the approximately 200 international students who attend her campus.
International students are also ineligible to receive financial aid, take student loans or work in the United States except for on-campus jobs.
However, once their degree program is complete they may apply to stay and work in the country for an additional year.
In addition, all international students attending school in the United States are tracked by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.
While foreigners who enter the United States to complete their degrees give up the ability to spend time with their families, they also bring new ideas home with them when they return.
“Because I went to another country I opened the door for my brothers,” said Broda. “There’s no limit to what you can achieve.”
While the majority of foreigners entering the United States are seeking to complete their entire degree program here, many Americans choose to study abroad for a part of their education.
The California State University system offers study abroad programs to 18 countries around the world.
During the 2009-2010 academic school year over 270,000 American students chose to study abroad, according to the IIE.
“In this economic climate the more opportunities the better,” said Juliet Aylmer, study abroad and national student exchange advisor for California State University Northridge. There are approximately 2,000 international students currently attending CSUN.
“They learn things they don’t know they’re going to learn,” said Aylmer. “If you can see the world and study why not do it?”
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