NEW YORK (PIX11) — After years of planning, Gabriela Gomes finally got the chance to study abroad. The destination? New York City.

“It was the best experience. I started to search, and I found New York City. And I thought, ‘this is an amazing city, and the programs there are amazing. So, I think I can do it,” Gomes said.

The journalist, who’s originally from Brazil, said the pandemic forced her to delay the trip for about two years.  But thankfully, it all worked out in the end. She spent three months in the United States back in January before going back to her country in late April.

“It was amazing. I was very nervous because I wasn’t in my country, I wasn’t with my family, but somehow it all worked,” she said.

Gabriela is not alone. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students come to America looking for English programs or college degrees. They come from various parts of the world, but many end up right here in the tri-state area.  

Chris Koutsovitis, director at Kaplan International in Manhattan, said New York City is a top destination for students, along with Los Angeles and Boston.

“We are seeing more students coming back on a full-time basis. They’re applying for the F1 visa, and they are heading to the U.S. to study English full-time,” Koutsovitis said.  

It is a sign of rebound for the industry after a major financial hit by the pandemic. The latest data from the Department of State showed the number of international students coming to the United States dropped by more than 50%, from 75,379 in 2019 to 37,365 in 2020.  

But, it seems like things are getting better. Preliminary numbers from 2021 already show a slight increase, with 39,352 students making their way to America.

“We are finding that we are back to pre-pandemic numbers, or even exceeding those numbers. So, it is pretty clear for us that people want to be here,” Koutsovitis said. 

With COVID-19 restrictions mostly lifted, not only in the New York area but across the country, English schools expect the number of international students to keep going up as the fall semester begins.