On studying abroad

I believe in the power of two simple ideas: 1) education 2) travel. Both of them ideally help us to become smarter, more open minded. Education is about achieving exposure to the different ideas from the different times. And travel is fundamentally same. It exposes us to different people, cultures, histories and ideas. The difference between education and travel in this regard is just a form or a medium if you wish.


Since I love both education and travel I get excited about the case where those two things combine. And that is studying abroad. A while ago I found dataset on the number of international students studying in the US.


I’m going to explore this dataset in various ways in the future. But today I want to look at few countries: Germany, France, Sweden and Singapore.



Ok, so what do we see from this chart? We see that number of international students from those countries grew a lot from 1980-2000 and then in the past 20 years it is pretty much stable. We also see that charts for Germany and France look similar and both countries send around 10000 students to the US each year. While Sweden and Singapore send around 4000 students.


Ok. This is useful. But those 4 countries are very different in size, so it’s not fair comparison. While absolute numbers are useful, they are not enough and we want to adjust data relatively to the population.



As we can see from the table the population of Singapore is 2 times less than the one of Sweden and 16 times smaller than the population of Germany. So we need to “normalize” original data. Meaning we need to divide number of students by the population.



At this new chart we see that Singapore has the highest number of students studying in the US per capita. And we also see that Sweden is way better in that regard than France and Germany (which have almost the same numbers over many years).


Playing a bit with original dataset allowed us to get new perspectives and also to formulate new questions. Eg I am now very intrigued by the Singapore and I think I need to learn more on this topic. But I’m also curious about differences between Sweden and France/German pair. I’m going to explore Nordic countries and Singapore in some latter posts.