The Institute of International Education ranked Richmond second for total number of students who study abroad, moving up from its previous place at third.
More than 60 percent of undergraduate students study abroad, contributing to Richmond’s globally diverse campus and classroom culture.
“I am an International Studies major, and although studying abroad is a requirement of the curriculum, I chose this major because I am very interested in studying the international landscape,” said Dan Holloran, a senior who studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last year. He said he had gained a valuable perspective on his own upbringing by studying Argentinians' views of the U.S.
"I gained a whole new outlook on life,” Holloran said.
Many students believe that studying abroad is more important than ever because of the current geopolitical climate. In the 2014–15 academic year, 577 Richmond students studied abroad, according to University Communications.
“For me, proximity to Europe was really important, although I didn’t want to study in Europe because I feel like everyone does that," Joy Malonza, a senior who studied in Morocco, said. "I changed a lot, I grew a lot.
"When I arrived in Morocco, I went in thinking one way about religion, politics and society. But I came out having completely done a 180."
There is a similar change in the thought process for exchange students coming into the university. Richmond ranked fifth for total number of international students in the 2015–16 school year, when 430 students from 70 countries attended, according to University Communications.
“I feel like I have a totally new part of my brain,” Aneta Martinkova, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, said. “I love how vibrant the culture is in Richmond. There are a lot of smart things going on. I have so many new ideas for what I want to change at home."
International students can also provide a unique perspective on how American education is viewed within a global landscape.
“My dream was to come to the U.S. In Italy we really view American universities as the best in the world,” said Giacomo Rapella, a law student on an exchange program from his university in Milan, Italy.
With globalization patterns on an ever-increasing trajectory, many students view studying in another country as essential for students who wish to work within this interconnected, culturally diverse world.
“When you study abroad, you get so many opportunities not only to improve your language skills but to meet so many people from around the world," Rapella said. "To me, you gain more in terms of enriching your own life than you would spending an equal amount of time studying the same subjects at home."
Contact reporter Jocelyn Grzeszczak at firstname.lastname@example.org