More University of California students are going abroad next year than ever before.

Despite the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) saw a 20 percent increase in enrollment for the 2002-03 school year, continuing a 10-year pattern of an increasing number of students wanting to go overseas. According to the UC Office of the President, several factors have influenced this increase, including better awareness, parental support, departmental support and a wider variety of options, such as going abroad for either a semester or the summer, as opposed to going for a whole year.

“There has been an increased awareness about the necessity of having an international experience,” UCSB EAP coordinator Sue Berg Arnold said. “It’s kind of surprising and also gratifying.”

So far, 5,700 UC students have taken applications to study abroad and an estimated 3,400 of these will actually go overseas. Although UCSB is still in the selection process for next year, Arnold estimated that approximately 530 UCSB students will go abroad, a 16.7 percent increase from the 454 participants last year.

Over half of the students who go abroad study in Europe, with Spain and the United Kingdom/Ireland being the most popular destinations. Other hot spots include Italy, Australia and France.

Some departments, such as global studies, are encouraging students in the major to study abroad, adding to the heightened interest in the program.

Arnold said that after Sept. 11, many students are more educated about global issues and seem unconcerned about their security while abroad.

“Safety is not the number one concern,” Arnold said.

Sophomore dramatic arts major Jackie Silverman is going to England next year because of the positive comments from students who have gone in the past.

“Everyone I’ve talked to either said it was the best time of their life or their biggest regret is not doing it,” she said. “It’s definitely a growing experience.”

Silverman said she is most nervous about being far away from her family and friends.

“I’m lucky because I’m going to a place where culture is not that different from America,” she said.

EAP is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, with the first study center at the University of Bordeaux in France. Since then, approximately 40,000 students have studied abroad. Through the UC EAP program, UC students can choose from 50 countries and 150 universities.

Websites that do not offer study abroad opportunities but provide search engines to programs and other educational programs have also seen an increase of hits such as , which has received 5 million visitors, an increase from 2 million visitors last year, said Ron Foley, the director of International Programs for .

Foley said he believed students might be eager to escape what he called the “media bombardment” since Sept.11.

“People who were abroad during the attacks were anxious to get back to their families,” he said, “but they’re also somewhat glad to escape the media and be somewhere more tranquil.”

EAP Program Director John A. Marcum said going abroad contributes to the educational experience.

“EAP expands the context and content of learning by exposing students to the challenges of diverse languages and intellectual traditions, other approaches to knowledge and different cultural assumptions,” said. “The program develops internationally aware citizens and enhances the potential of students to understand, respond to and contribute to a rapidly changing world.”