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Study abroad interest steady

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Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 12:17 am | Updated: 12:58 am, Wed Nov 17, 2010.

Despite a modest decline among students nationwide, interest in studying abroad has not waned at UF.

A report released Monday by the Institute of International Education found a decline of 0.8 percent in students who study abroad. This report marks the first time in 25 years that the numbers have not increased.

According to Susanne Hill, executive director for the UF International Center, the number of study abroad students at the university remains steady.

“We attribute [the lack of increased interest] to the fact that we are still not completely out of the economic hole,” Hill said. “There is more interest than ever, but families cannot afford it.”

Most students who choose to study abroad take short trips, usually in the summer or for a semester. Only four percent of students nationwide study abroad longer than an academic or calendar year.

“It would be fun to go for longer, but it’s the most convenient in the summer,” said freshman Stephanie Zoller, who plans to study abroad in London next summer. “I’ll still be able to experience the culture, but I need to be [in Gainesville] during the year.”

UF has seen the effects of the nationwide trend of going to lesser known or less popular countries, but not as predominantly as at other universities.

Students have shown increased interest in studying in China and places where they can learn Hebrew or Arabic.

However, a majority of UF students still choose to study abroad in Western Europe.

The four top countries to study in are the UK, Spain, Italy and France.

“It will always be the most popular because this is where students do not have to get much out of their comfort zone,” Hill said.

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