Interesting. Hadn’t really thought much about this being an issue, but I can understand the concern. You would definitely want to be careful about your friends or acquaintances. If not because they’ll try to convert you, then simply that they might use an obvious traveler as an unwitting smuggler or transporter of goods. That’s always a problem (never carry something for someone you don’t know), but perhaps more so in countries currently involved in terrorist-like warfare. Students abroad are in a dangerous situation of being obviously naive, unfamiliar with local rules, and in a strange situation–it makes them vulnerable to being taken advantage of.**DB
A number of Asian governments – among them Indonesia and Malaysia – are concerned their citizens who study abroad in the Middle East could become exposed to Islamic State doctrine, or, due to the proximity of Turkey to Islamic State strongholds in Syria, could be recruited from Turkey.
Reports from Jakarta, Indonesia, suggest students returning home from the Middle East have been monitored by the Indonesian government for evidence of radicalisation.
However, a wide-ranging study of Indonesian students studying in Egypt and Turkey over the past five years has found the students are not being radicalised, even though many of them, particularly those studying in Egypt, are religious students.
The just-released report by the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta, examined the effect of political unrest in Egypt and Turkey, and the rise of Islamic State – variously known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh – in Iraq and Syria on Indonesian students’ views on democracy, religion, political leadership and terrorism.
“Religion is only one criterion by which they [students] judge political events,” the report’s authors said.
“What came through in this study, in common with others [other studies], is that people are not radicalised, by and large, in the Middle East,” said Anthony Bubalo, deputy director of the Lowy Institute, launching the report in Sydney, Australia, on 15 April. “People tend to go to the institutions and study with Islamic scholars that reflect their existing outlooks in Indonesia. They are not suddenly exposed to extremist ideology.”
Students saw events in countries like Egypt – such as the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in what some called an ‘Islamist coup’ – as having “only limited relevance to the situation in their home country”, he said.
‘Firmly against IS’
Indonesia is particularly concerned about the threat from returning students, after major terrorist attacks by groups linked to al-Qaeda, notably the 2002 Bali bombing which killed over 200, including foreign tourists.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a shopping mall in Jakarta on 14 January that killed eight and injured two dozen.
From the research, and interviews with some 47 Indonesian students in Egypt – mainly at Al-Azhar University, an Islamic university in Cairo – and Turkey, “there was no sense at all that any of the Indonesian students would change the system they already have [in Indonesia] even though they were critical, in some cases, of the political system in Egypt”, said Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta.
The students interviewed were “very firmly against Islamic State”, she said, noting Indonesians known to have joined Islamic State had not come from universities and schools in the Middle East.
“Overwhelmingly the people that have joined [Islamic State] have come from Indonesia and not from studying abroad,” Jones said. . . .
For Students Studying Abroad in China–Be Aware that both Apple and Google-Based products (i.e. almost all western phones other than Apple) often have significant issues working in China. It’s better to just count on not having access to those tools and renting a phone in China itself.**DB
Chinese customers of Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks services are seeking refunds on their purchases amid reports that the features have been suspended at the behest of government authorities.
Apple has not issued any statement to customers in China about the status of the services, but many users report that they have been unable to connect to the movie service and iBooks since April 15.
A Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman said: “We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” but she would not elaborate on why the services were unavailable.
The Chinese government has not issued any statement on the matter. However, the New York Times, citing two anonymous sources, said the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television had ordered the services offline, though it was unclear why.
Apple’s App Store revenue has surged in China in the last year, overtaking Japan as the world’s No. 2 market for the service, according to App Annie.
Apple technical assistance and account service representatives, reached by phone in China, said they had received no official notice from the company that the services had been blocked or shut down. They offered to arrange refunds on purchased content. . . .
For the past year and a half, my oldest child has been studying at a university in Amsterdam. He’s majoring in physics and — if all goes according to plan — he should be earning his bachelor’s degree in 2017. He comes home summers and over Christmas and I visit him there at least twice a year. So far, so good. But on the heels of this morning’s news of terrorist attacks in Belgium, he said something that rocked me to my core: “It seems as though the bombings are getting closer.”
Only last November, terrorist attacks in Paris — 316 miles from Amsterdam — killed 129 people. One of those killed was a 23-year-old California State Long Beach student, Nohemi Gonzalez, who had gone to Paris for a semester of study at the Strate School of Design. Not only did her death horrify her classmates, but it also made many parents of study-abroad students wonder whether kids should still be taking college classes overseas.
Now it’s Brussels — 108 miles from Amsterdam — that’s under attack, with at least 34 people killed and many more injured today in blasts at the airport and a subway station. Only a few days ago, the suspected mastermind behind the Paris attacks was arrested.
Upon hearing of the attack, I immediately messaged my son in Amsterdam on Facebook. Although he’s alarmed — and has commented that the attacks are indeed too close for comfort — he’s not going anywhere. He’ll continue living his life and attending classes this week, just as he has been. He noted his certainty that his professors will discuss the issue today with students, just as they did in the days following the Paris attacks.
But this latest incident has given me pause, and when friends ask me what I think about whether American students should continue studying abroad, I’m no longer sure exactly what to tell them.
My husband and I raised our three kids in London, and lived there for seven years before moving to the States in 2000. I’ve long been a proponent of kids studying abroad, and even wrote an article a few months back about the advantages of getting a degree overseas. At the time, I asserted that the advantages to earning a degree abroad are many, but one of the main ones is the money saved by students and families. Many programs in Europe offer bachelor’s degrees after only three years, and often at a fraction of the price charged by U.S. institutions.
Currently, more than 46,500 U.S. students are pursuing degrees overseas, roughly 84 percent of whom are enrolled in bachelor’s or master’s degree programs, according to the most recent data from the Institute of International Education. The United Kingdom is the most popular destination, followed by Canada, France and Germany. . .
**They aren’t the only ones, some other colleges are backing out too. It’s up to you, just be safe! To be honest, I think we’re just as much in danger no matter where we are. But I’m probably a bad person to give advice given my whole life is now spent abroad 🙂 ***DB
As the world mourns those who died and were injured in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels, universities in the U.S. continue to work on strategies to keep students studying abroad as safe as possible.
And now one school, Texas Tech University, has decided the best recourse is to suspend its Belgium programs altogether.
The school announced that its summer and fall study abroad programs there have been canceled in light of the terrorist attacks that killed at least 30 people, says Elizabeth McDaniel, the school’s senior director for International Education.
“It’s the type of thing we are thinking about all the time, so it didn’t come as an, ‘Oh my gosh, we never thought this could possibly happen’ type of thing,” McDaniel says of Tuesday’s attacks. “Of course it has happened before and will likely happen again.”
Four Texas Tech students were in Brussels when the attack happened, but all are safe and accounted for, according to a report from KCBD.
McDaniel says the department is proactive in its safety measures for study abroad students, and that before venturing out of the country students must attend a two-hour safety seminar, where among other things they discuss potential terrorist attacks.
“We reevaluate safety measures every day based on what’s going on in the world,” McDaniel says. “We just look at the situation continuously and evaluate where our programs are going, where our students are going, and then make decisions accordingly.”
Texas Tech has study abroad programs in more than 70 countries. . . . .
Interesting the problems we face when deciding to study abroad or not . . . DB
Sophomores are in crisis. For so many students at GW, all we’ve ever wanted to do is study international affairs or political science in D.C. and then study abroad somewhere else.
But students want to have their cake and eat it, too. We want to be in the District during the ups and downs of the presidential election – but for the Class of 2018, that’s our upcoming junior year.
The election, the presidential inauguration and GW’s inaugural ball all take place during our third year, the time usually designated for study abroad. But for juniors, next year has become another “only at GW moment” that nobody wants to miss. For some, the only solution is to switch gears and go abroad second semester sophomore year, instead.
Students in this predicament need to look at the bigger picture: The inauguration is one day in your spring semester. Are you willing to rearrange all of your college plans for it?
I cringe when I hear my fellow sophomores dropping everything to go abroad next semester because of their fear of missing out on the 2016 election. It’s just too soon. I feel like I’ve barely dipped my toes into my major requirements, and yet some people are already making plans to go abroad.
I know I’m not the only one who came to GW in order to eventually leave and study somewhere else. It’s one of my greatest priorities as a GW student to continue my education with the backdrop of a different culture, but I haven’t yet decided where I want to go because I know I still have time.
More than 80 percent of Elliott School students study abroad, along with around half of the entire GW undergraduate student body. I know how important it is to have an international college experience, but it’s also important to remember to stay on track with your degree by making sure you choose the most opportune time. Study abroad has its benefits, but it can have its disadvantages, too, if you don’t time it right.
There’s really no harm in going abroad fall of your junior year. It’s not like the election will be taking place exclusively in D.C., and most of us are voting by absentee ballot, anyway. Going abroad in the fall is worth it, especially when great programs like Focus on Fall Abroad Community exist. . . .
A Famous Tourist Scam in Paris, France
You’ll find this scam is one of the top scams in Paris, France. It’s been around for many years, (because it works) and is known as the “Friendship Bracelet Scam” the “Paris String Scam” or by the name given to those who try to commit the scam on you, “Bracelet Pushers.” The scam is committed by who many describe as “string men” or as local Paris merchants call them “con-merchants.” Non-french speaking tourists are targeted the most. While the Paris Friendship Bracelet Scam is popular in Paris, it can also be found at many tourist locations outside of Paris in France too, and to a lesser extent in other countries such as Italy and Spain.
Where the String Scam Occurs
One of the most common Paris locations where you’ll find the Friendship Bracelet Scam practiced is throughout the Montmartre area. Specifically the scammers will target tourists and first time visitors as they approach and walk up the giant staircase that leads from the Metro to the Sacre Coeur area of the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. This is a popular stomping ground for tourists and is Montmartre’s leading tourist attraction, and probably the most-visited church in Paris. Visitors to Paris should also be aware that this scam is also prevalent at many of the Metro lines and stations that you travel on to get to this location.
The “string men” seem to usually target female tourists (but not always) as they enter the small fenced square below Sacré-Coeur and proceed toward the stairs that run up the hillside. You can spot the “string men” as they are usually lined up on the sides of the stairs leading to the Sacre-Coeur. These innocent looking people are annoying “con-merchants” who have the “Paris String Scam” honed down to a science.
How the String Scam Plays Out
The scam begins like this. One of the “‘string men” walks up to you and engages you in innocent conversation and will usually say that they want to show you a magic trick. Before you know it, a “string man” has grabbed your wrist or one or two fingers and encircled it with a homemade bracelet of colored string.
Typically the string men will say something to you like “it’s for the church” or “a gift.” Sometimes the string men are more polite (they’ll ask the visitor to hold a string) and before you know it, the string men will somehow manage to grab your wrist or fingers and encircle it with a homemade bracelet of colored string, yarn, or other crafty-looking item.
Next, when the string men finish making your new “local Paris string bracelet souvenir,” they will demand payment of around €20 which is quite obviously not what the bracelet is worth. If you fail to pay them, they will doggedly follow you and be VERY insistent that you provide some amount of payment. These “con-merchants” are so demanding, they succeed in intimidating many tourists into paying them because it’s the only way to get rid of them.
Another variation of this scam occurs when the string men find a couple and offer the woman a friendship bracelet. When the woman kindly denies, the scammer tells her there is no charge. To get the scammer to leave them alone, the woman offers her wrist and the scammer ties the “Friendship Bracelet” on her wrist. A second scammer then appears and offers another “Friendship Bracelet” to the man. The man thinks to himself, “well if they are free why not?” and then he offers his wrist to the scammer. Once the Friendship Bracelets are tied onto the wrists . . . .
Affordability is often the number one concern of students interested in studying abroad, yet most students have no idea how much financial support is available to students who want to go abroad! If you are contemplating a study abroad program because of financial concerns, check out GoAbroad’s Directory of hundreds of study abroad scholarships. Every student can find the financial aid they need to study abroad, justselect from the drop-down menus above and clickSearch!
If you are just starting your search and feeling overwhelmed by financial assistance opportunities or searching for the best way to sift through financial aid options, then follow GoAbroad’s Step-by-Step Guide to getting study abroad scholarships:
1. Visit your Study Abroad and Financial Aid Office.
This should be the very first step you take in searching for financial assistance to go abroad. Start with your university, because quite frequently there are scholarship opportunities specifically offered to students interested in participating in study abroad or other international programs. But even if your university doesn’t offer study abroad scholarships, your Study Abroad and Financial Aid Offices will both have plenty of resources and potential scholarships to share with you to get you started.
2. Understand your Financial Aid Options.
Make sure you know the difference between a grant, fellowship, scholarship, and all other forms of financial support, before you start an application. Each type of aid will garner different expectations for applications and of potential awardees, and therefore you should approach each uniquely and for different reasons, depending on what type of program you plan to pursue abroad.
- Check out this GoAbroad Article about Funding Options for definitions of various financial aid types
- For detailed information about Student Loans, visit GoAbroad’s Study Abroad Loans Directory
3. Take into Account your Degree Level. . . . .
The rise of Airbnb, the online home rental company, is undeniable. More than 50 million guests have rented lodging through the site since it was launched in 2008. There are now more than 1.5 million listings on the site.
With that growth comes a serious question of safety and security. We’ve all heard the stories of Airbnb guests trashing rental properties or disturbing the neighbors. But now a horrifying story from an Airbnb traveler who says his host locked him in his room and sexually abused him has renters on edge over just how safe it is to rent a room from a complete stranger.
Don’t be afraid to ask the renter questions or even to reach out to past guests for more information about their stay.
On July 4, Jacob Lopez was renting a room from an Airbnb host in Madrid when he says his host locked him in the apartment, began rattling knives in the kitchen and begged him to engage in sexual acts with him, according to the New York TImes.
Lopez frantically texted his mother back in the United States. She called the police station in Madrid but got no response. She called Airbnb, but she says they were unable to tell her exactly where her son was.
It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare, and while the Airbnb host denies the charges, it’s not surprising that Airbnb renters can find themselves in scary situations when trusting that the information provided on the listing is correct. . . . .
TIPS FOR FINDING CHEAP FARES
— Travel during off-peak times. Two of the slowest periods for air travel are Dec. 1 to Dec. 14 and then Jan. 4 to Feb. 15.
— Fly on slow days. Planes tend to have the most empty seats on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
— Do a flexible date search. Sites like ITA Software and Cheapair.com let travelers pull up a calendar with the cheapest days to fly between two airports.
— Consider nearby airports. Driving an extra 50 miles might save $100 per person.
— Look for routes flown by Frontier, Southwest and Spirit. Other airlines are matching or beating their fares.
— Take advantage of the 24-hour rule. Passengers have 24 hours after buying a ticket to get a full refund. The day after booking a flight, check back to see if fares have fallen. Cancel and rebook at the lower price. . . . .