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### Enhancing International Education: Encouraging More US and Canadian Students to Study in Mexico

The anxiety I experienced in 1995 remains vivid in my memory, as if it happened just yesterday. Back then, during my second year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I observed my peers delving into fields like engineering, chemistry, accounting, and physics. Meanwhile, armed with a generic management/marketing degree, I pondered my future job prospects.

Contemplating ways to enhance my experience and marketability post-graduation, I reflected on the recent implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Ross Perot’s ominous warnings about job migration to Mexico. Could learning Spanish be the key? Despite my previous aversion to the language, I considered revisiting it. Researching study abroad opportunities in Spanish-speaking countries offered by the UW Madison Business School, I weighed my options: Santiago, Chile, or Barcelona, Spain. While both locations were appealing, they didn’t seem directly relevant to a business career. Mexico, on the other hand, appeared a more practical choice, albeit uncertain on how to proceed.

In the absence of Google, I scoured the campus newspaper for information and stumbled upon an advertisement for a study abroad program in Guadalajara through Beaver College (now Acadia University) in Pennsylvania. Unfamiliar with Beaver College or Guadalajara, I took a leap of faith—a decision that would profoundly impact my professional trajectory.

Fast forward to 2024, and it’s disheartening to note the scant number of students opting to study abroad in Mexico. Despite the University of Wisconsin-Madison offering over 30 global programs, including five in Spain, Mexico remains conspicuously absent. This discrepancy raises questions about the lack of interest in Mexico as a study destination compared to popular European countries like Spain and France.

Statistics reveal a stark contrast, with over 25,000 U.S. students in Spain, over 14,000 in France, yet fewer than 3,000 in Mexico. This begs the question: why the disparity? Is Mexico perceived as less appealing for study abroad? Are universities neglecting to provide enticing programs in Mexico? The untapped potential of Mexico as a study destination, given its growing significance in North American political, business, and cultural spheres, remains overlooked.

Reflecting on my transformative experience studying in Mexico, I emphasize the broader impact of such programs beyond academics. From serene tropical beaches to ancient pyramids and vibrant city life, Mexico offers a rich tapestry of experiences. The proximity to the U.S. and Canada facilitates lasting connections, a sentiment echoed by expats who once studied in Mexico.

The narrative of studying in Mexico extends beyond academia to encompass cultural immersion, personal growth, and lifelong memories. Embracing opportunities to study art in Mexico City, anthropology in the Yucatán, or business in Monterrey opens doors to unique experiences and perspectives. While progress is being made to promote student exchanges, there remains untapped potential in fostering educational ties across borders.

As we delve deeper into this topic at Mexico News Daily, we aim to spark dialogue and inspire a new generation of students to consider Mexico as a study destination. Share your thoughts in the comments, and let’s collectively champion the transformative power of studying abroad.

Travis Bembenek, CEO of Mexico News Daily, brings over 27 years of experience living, working, and thriving in Mexico.