Study Abroad in Mexico: It’s More than Just a Great Vacation Destination!

As we celebrate International Education Week, here’s a quiz:

Which country hosts the largest number of U.S. tourists annually, is home to the largest number of U.S. retirees, and has over 4,000 higher education institutions? 

The answer is Mexico.

The United States and Mexico also have a bilateral trade relationship worth $1 million per minute, $1.6 billion each day, and over $580 billion per year, which support six million jobs in the United States.

So, if you are one of 80,000 American students who might travel to Mexico for spring break, why not go early or stay after your vacation to study Spanish, ecology, or business there? Or, consider an alternative by improving your Spanish skills and cultural knowledge while doing community service in Mexico.

A person holds the flags of the United States and Mexico [AP Photo}

Why Study Abroad in Mexico?

In addition to our strong economic ties, Mexico and the United States are inextricably linked by geography, history, family ties, and shared cross-border communities.  A study-abroad program in Mexico could help you improve your Spanish language skills and your understanding of Mexican and Hispanic culture and society. Participation in this kind of program could also help build your skills for doing business in Mexico and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.

According to the Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education and the State Department, there has been an increase of almost 25 percent between 2013 and 2015 in numbers of students choosing Mexico as a study-abroad destination.  

Let's help strengthen the study abroad generation. Join #StudyAbroadBecause to promote study abroad for all Americans. [State Department photo]

Expanding Partnerships Between U.S. and Mexican Academic Institutions

Recognizing the many benefits of study abroad opportunities in Mexico, several large and prestigious U.S. universities are increasing their engagement with Mexico through academic partnerships. It’s clear that a growing number of people and institutions now recognize that Mexico is so much more than just a great vacation. The University of Notre Dame, among others, has opened a permanent office in Mexico, and the systems of the Universities of California and Texas have organized major conferences in Mexico to expand and deepen partnerships with Mexican academic institutions. Universities in Arizona and Minnesota are also expanding academic partnerships with Mexico following recent visits of delegations to Mexico, led by their Governors. Arkansas State University is close to completing construction on its new campus in Querétaro State, where students may earn degrees that are valid in both countries.  Central College of Pella Iowa receives dozens of U.S. students at their Merida campus.  The U.S.-Mexico Fulbright-García Robles program, funded by both governments, continues to support over 100 U.S. students, professors, and scholars who study, teach, or conduct research in Mexico each year.  The Gilman Scholarship Program also offers scholarships to U.S. undergraduates with financial need.

It is encouraging to see these academic institutions seizing the moment to encourage closer ties and increased cultural understanding among next generation of leaders. This is a trend we are proud to see unfolding between the United States and the people of many other nations as well.

Study Abroad -- A Time of Great Discovery

As an increasing number of students continue to trek across the globe to gain practical, international experience that they can apply in their careers and life in a global society, we hope they will continue to consider studying in countries like Mexico, where they can gain an up-close look at how our world is changing.

Study abroad is a time of great discovery --  where young Americans and young people from other nations experience the world and begin to form networks that will enhance their potential as global problem-solvers.  We are encouraged by the latest data in our Open Doors Report that confirms more and more Americans are now choosing to study abroad. In doing so, they are building understanding as unofficial ambassadors for our country, debunking stereotypes, and defining American values.

About the Author:  Rebecca Thompson serves as the Education and Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Mexico City.

For More Information:

A view of the city of Guanajuato in Mexico. [Photo courtesy of Justin Vidamo]
Posted by Rebecca Thompson
November 18, 2016


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