International crises heighten study-abroad awareness

“International crises heighten study-abroad awareness”

by Vanessa Miller via “The Gazette

Today, it’s Belgium. Before, it was France.

There also is Brazil, where the Zika virus is rampant. And tomorrow could bring an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane somewhere else.

The drumbeat of terror attacks, health risks and natural disaster crises around the world has directors of growing university study-abroad programs continually monitoring international security updates and advisories. Program heads on Iowa’s campuses were paying attention Tuesday, for example, when news broke of more terror attacks — this time in Brussels.

None of Iowa’s three public universities have students studying abroad in Belgium right now, but Iowa State University — for one — has an exchange program planned there in spring 2017. ISU’s study abroad director, Trevor Nelson, said he doesn’t foresee Tuesday’s attacks derailing that program.

“But we have to monitor the situation and make the best determination about whether you are putting students in harm’s way,” he said. “At this point, I don’t believe we are in a position to put that program on hold.”

Nelson said study abroad programs these days have to be “more diligent in terms of monitoring what is happening in other parts of the world.” But, he said, that’s not necessarily indicative of a more dangerous international study environment.

Rather, he credited it — among other things — to a rise in students taking advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s partly a facet of the number of students who are now studying abroad,” he said. “And they are going to every continent.”

When Nelson started as the ISU study abroad director 25 years ago, about 200 students were involved. In the 2015 budget year, ISU sent 1,633 students oversees through a variety of study programs to every continent including Antarctica.

“And the type of students who are studying abroad has changed as well,” he said. “Twenty-five years ago, those who went on semester long programs tended to be self-starters and more independent and resilient than today.” . . . .

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“Tips for International Travel”

“Tips for International Travel”

By Samantha Brown via “AARP”

Two back-to-back international trips this year — to Germany and South Africa — gave me a good reason to brush up on my world-traveler skills. Here are the main things I think about when I’m planning a trip abroad.

Tourist in Paris, FrancePhoning home. How I am going to communicate? I mainly use Skype. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to make international calls. There are similar applications for phones, including Viber and WhatsApp, that allow you to text, call and send photos and videos for free as long as you have Wi-Fi or a data plan. A word to the wise: Don’t take easy-to-find free Wi-Fi for granted outside the U.S.

Using the Internet. To manage my cellphone data usage, I go to my carrier’s website and purchase an international plan for $30 (which gives me 120MB). Each time I go over that, I’m automatically charged another $30. But that protects me from future bill-opening sticker shock when I realize it cost me 82 bucks to view that cute baby video my best friend sent me!

Baggage weight. If you’re flying on a regional carrier, make sure you look into the airline’s specific baggage guidelines. In Europe, for instance, your carry-on might be weighed. I know, horrors! You could be charged hefty fees for bags that weigh more than 30 pounds. I’ve never met any of you, but I know there’s a good chance your carry-on weighs more than that.

Passport. I always bring a photocopy of my passport, and I also keep a picture of it on my phone.

Currency. Don’t sweat the exchange. You don’t need cash when you arrive in the airport, nor do you need the official currency exchange counter. An airport ATM is the best and least expensive way to get cash with your debit or credit card. . . . .

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6 Ways To Cut The Costs Of Your Study Abroad Program

“6 Ways To Cut The Costs Of Your Study Abroad Program”

by  Alexa Davis via “Forbes

When recent Cornell University graduate Evan McElwain, 21, interviewed for his current job at a major financial firm, the first topic of discussion wasn’t his expert knowledge of the markets or opinions on quantitative easing. Instead, he delved into stories about backpacking across mainland China and getting trapped in a flood en route to a music festival at the Great Wall.

“[If] every candidate a company is interviewing comes from the same school, took the same classes, got similar grades, had leadership roles in similar clubs ­‑- it really comes down to who the interviewer thinks is the most interesting,” McElwain said. “Traveling does wonders for making people more interesting.”

Study abroad programs are the stock and trade of most top tier four year colleges and for students who choose to enroll in them they can become an edge in the job search. However according to a report from the British Council, a U.K. non-profit that promotes overseas educational programs, the number of American students considering study abroad has slumped 12% from last year.

study abroad 1

Why? Study abroad program inflation. At an average cost of $31,270 per semester, these programs run about double what a semester at private colleges run. In fact, the cost of study abroad was cited as the single largest nonacademic deterrent among students. Abroad fees only get higher when you tack on living expenses like sightseeing, dining and travelling to nearby countries.

Amid rising interest rates on student loans and state spending cuts, it’s understandable why study abroad has taken the back seat to more pressing expenses. Although flying halfway across the world for a semester is definitely not a drop in the bucket, it can be an affordable investment with careful research and planning. Many US students are unfamiliar with the financial realities of foreign study, with only 23% aware of government-sponsored programs – up from 6% in 2013. In addition to these federal scholarships and grants, there are countless other ways to travel on a budget. We’ve outlined the best tips below so you don’t have to sacrifice your experience to save a buck. . . . .

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Kids Studying Abroad Are Now Never Out of Touch

Kids Studying Abroad Are Now Never Out of Touch

by Beth J. Harpaz via “ABC News”

A generation ago, students on semester abroad were practically incommunicado, aside from airmailed letters and one or two calls home. These days, from the minute the plane lands, kids studying overseas are connected with home via Skype, Facebook, and messaging apps like Viber and WhatsApp.

Has technology altered semester abroad by making it impossible to immerse yourself in another culture? Or does staying in touch simply increase comfort levels, easing both homesickness and parental worries?

Jane Tabachnick of Montclair, New Jersey, remembers airmailing letters to her parents when she studied in Paris for nine months at age 21, long before the cellphone era. “I knew they were worried and that they’d be waiting by the mailbox,” she said. “It seemed like an eternity between letters.”

It was different when Tabachnick’s 21-year-old daughter lived in Russia and Paris as part of her studies at Rutgers University. They often conversed by Skype or GoogleChat. “My daughter is very mature and level-headed and I’m not a big worrier, but I’m a parent, and she’s across the world, and it was just so easy to be in touch,” Tabachnick said.

On the other hand, she said, the less she heard from her daughter the better, and not because she didn’t miss her: “When I hear from her a little less, I know she’s out having fun.”

Robbin Watson was forced to give up screen time with the home crowd when her laptop was damaged during a semester in Italy six years ago, when she was 19.

“I was devastated at first, wondering to myself, ‘How will I know what’s going on at home? How will I Skype my friends?'” she recalled.

But as time went on, her experience in Rome “drastically changed. I began to go out more, no longer running home from class to hop online. I no longer thought about what was going on at college and soon, I began to not even care.”

Looking back, she’s grateful that her laptop was damaged. Her advice for semester abroad: “Get rid of your smartphone. The whole point of studying abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture, the people, the language. Once you have Skype, Facebook and constant calls from parents, I think it really takes away from the experience and becomes a huge distraction.”

Staying in touch is important to Daniele Weiss, 19, a New York University student who spent spring semester in Florence and is now in Israel for the summer. “My mom needs to hear from me every night before I go to sleep,” she said.

From Italy, six hours ahead of her parents, she’d call in the morning before her dad went to work, and then text throughout the day. She said most of her fellow American students also “stayed in contact with everybody from home. It was very comfortable and so easy. It’s not like I felt like I was missing out on the immersion. But I wanted to share things with my mom.” . . . .

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Thousands of Bags Go Missing on British Airways Flights Over the Weekend

Reason #5,289 not to rely on the fact that your luggage will be waiting for you at the end of your journey ~ Pack A Carry-On With All Necessities!! **DB

Thousands of Bags Go Missing on British Airways Flights Over the Weekend

by Jo Piazza via “Yahoo! News

Thousands of Bags Go Missing on British Airways Flights Over the Weekend

(Photo: British Airways)

Television executive Theano Apostolou was on a 10-day business trip from Los Angeles to London then Brussels and Glasgow when her luggage went missing on a British Airwaysflight from Brussels to Glasgow over the weekend.

By Monday morning her luggage had been lost for 53 hours and according to Apostolou the airline was unable to tell her if her bag even landed at Heathrow in the first place.

She isn’t alone. Since Thursday, thousands of pieces of luggage have been misplaced in the baggage system, causing travelers intense agitation.

“When we arrived in Glasgow, I would say that almost everyone who had checked luggage for this regional flight had their bags lost. There were attendants with long forms with our names waiting to tell us our bags hadn’t made it,” Apostolou said. “I’ve now wasted hundreds of dollars on essentials because I was only on day three of a ten-day business trip and have had to run like mad in between meetings to find stores that are still open.”

Checking into her hotel later that afternoon, Apostolou was informed by the receptionist that other guests had been plagued by the same problem and that many of them had not received their baggage by the time they checked out many days later.

According to the airline, the problem began on Thursday of last week when a technical failure knocked out the baggage processing system at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow did not respond for comment.

“The situation has been as a result of an IT failure with Heathrow Airport’s baggage system in Terminal Five,” according to Euan Fordyce, a spokesman for British Airways. “The problem began on Thursday of last week, but there have been intermittent faults since then.” 

The airline says that the system was back up and running on Monday, but they were still advising travelers to “carry essential items in their hand baggage as a precaution.”

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