Guest post: U.S. students heading to Latin America, just not to Mexico

Council on Foreign Relations, 2/10/2014

Secretary John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden recently announced the new State Department directed 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. It ambitiously aims to have 100,000 U.S. students in Latin America and 100,000 Latin American students in the United States by 2020. This initiative builds on the increasing interest in the region; during the 2011-2012 school year over 44,000 U.S. students headed south. Still these growing numbers hide the changing geographic interests, including the increasing popularity of Brazil and Costa Rica and the steep declines in semesters abroad in Mexico.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, over a third of Americans studying in Latin America went to Mexico, with over 8,000 students enrolled in classes in Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla, and the country’s many other cities. Then the fifth most popular country in the world for U.S. study abroad, it placed well ahead of other Latin American countries, as well as popular destinations such as Germany, Ireland, and Australia. Today fewer than 4,000 Americans venture to their southern neighbor to study, a number surpassed by regional peers Costa Rica, Argentina, and Brazil, and on par with much smaller countries such as Ecuador.

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