1997-2017: A Look Back at the Year GoAbroad.com Started

GoAbroad has officially reached its 20 year anniversary! That’s right: in the age of furbies, chokers, and the beginning of Bill Clinton’s second term, an international educator named Troy Peden had the bright idea to digitize program catalogs. That idea has grown and evolved into what you see you today: not only are we the most comprehensive program database of our kind on the web, we also value cultivating community, sharing expertise, and helping the travel decision-making process run a little smoother.



GoAbroad website circa 1999
GoAbroad.com circa 1999!

We’re excited to celebrate this milestone with you! To ramp up the fun ahead for the year 2017 (including more articles, promos, even some giveaways!), we’ve rounded up these interesting and hilarious sets of fun facts from way-back-when. Join us on a walk down yester-lane and enjoy these fun facts from two decades ago.

A Snapshot of Open Doors Data from 1997:

  • Allan E. Goodman was already the President of IIE. Great job!
  • The 1997-1998 Open Doors report cost $42.95 to purchase.
  • Quote: “… ‘Internationalize’ may be closer to a buzzword than a deep-seated reality for most colleges and universities.”
  • Inbound – ISSS
    • Foreign student enrollment made up 3.4% of the total U.S. higher education enrollment (481,280).
    • The primary countries of origin for international students in the U.S. were Japan, China, Korea, India, and Taiwan.
  • Outbound – EA
    • The host regions for U.S. Study Abroad students were broken down as follows:
      • Europe 64.8%
      • Latin America 15.4%
      • Asia 6.4%
      • Everywhere else: 13.4%
  • The top five destinations for U.S. Study Abroad students were the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, and Mexico.
  • The most popular fields of study for U.S. Study Abroad students were Social Science & Humanities, Business & Management, and Foreign Languages.


London, England in 1997
London in 1997

Other Fun IE Facts from 1997:

  • It had been just over 800 years since Emo of Friesland, the first study abroad student in recorded history, traveled from northern Holland to study at Oxford University.
  • The Fulbright Program just celebrated it’s 40th year.
  • It was 50 years since the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs (OIC) was renamed the Office of International Information and
  • Educational Exchange (the current Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs didn’t exist yet!).
  • NAFSA was likewise gearing up for it’s 50 year celebration, to come in 1998.
  • International Education Week (IEW) didn’t exist yet.
  • There were already empirical signs that the length of student programs abroad was getting shorter.
  • The number of trips Americans took by air was on the rise — from 600 million in 1996 to a projected 1 billion in 2000.
  • Quote: “Internet bookings [for flights] will increase in 1998, inevitably endangering the traditional role of the travel agent.”

Just for Fun: Random Facts from 1997:

  • Popular quotes included:
    • “Oh my god, they killed Kenny!” – Cartman, South Park
    • “I’m the king of the world!” – Jack Dawson, Titanic
    • “There are some things that money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” – MasterCard launch
  • When Nelson Mandela met the Spice Girls in 1997 he described the moment as “One of the greatest moments of my life.”
  • The Superbowl XXXI Champions were the Green Bay Packers (shout out 10-year-old Nikki Powers).
  • Celebrity Deaths: John Denver, Chris Farley, Princess Diana
  • LeAnn Rimes was the youngest person ever to win the ‘Best New Artist” Grammy.
  • Beanie Babies became the must-have toy for Christmas 1997. Other favorites: Teletubby toys, Pokemon, Tamagotchi, Spice Girls Dolls, Repunzel Barbie
  • The biggest blockbuster movies were: Titanic, Men in Black, Jurassic Park 2, LThe Spice Girlsiar Liar
  • The most popular TV shows were: Seinfeld, ER, Friends, Touched by an Angel
  • Popular songs included: Wannabe (The Spice Girls), MMMBop (Hanson), and Candle in the Wind (Elton John).
  • A movie ticket cost, on average, $4.69.
  • The average cost of a domestic plane ticket was $287.19.


Spice Girls
Photo Courtesy of New Wave and Beyond

Stay tuned for more fun!

At the ripe age of 20, GoAbroad has learned a thing or two. We can’t wait to share with you all during our year-long celebration!

Leave a Reply