“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

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

“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

by Sudarto Svarnabhumi via “University World News

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. . . .

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My Kid’s Studying Abroad and I’m Not Sure What to Think

My Kid’s Studying Abroad and I’m Not Sure What to Think

by Shelley Emling via “Huffington Post

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. . .

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Decisions: Study Abroad vs. Winter Sports

“Decisions: Study Abroad vs. Winter Sports”

by Liz Varoli via “The College Voice

Credit: James Lafortezza

Having the opportunity to study abroad during college is one of the main attractions for students who attend Connecticut College. Studying abroad is known to be one of the most amazing times of a student’s college experience. Over 50% of students at Conn take advantage of this opportunity either through programs offered by Conn or through programs offered by other schools.

Traditionally, students choose the fall or spring semester to spend four months learning, traveling and developing as a student in a different country. At Conn, student athletes who play a fall sport are able to study abroad during the spring semester while student athletes who play a spring sport are able to study abroad during the fall semester. Except this academic split between the fall and the spring leaves the student athletes who play winter sports with a challenging decision as the winter sport season is spread over both semesters. Winter sports usually begin Nov 1 and go through the winter break and often through February. No matter which semester winter athletes study abroad, they will be missing a part of their sports season.

The question is: when an athlete commits to play on a winter sports team does it mean s/he automatically sacrificed his/her opportunity to study abroad? Playing a sport at the collegiate level is a huge commitment. Athletes agree to dedicate a large chunk of their time to practices, games and traveling which can jeopardize their schoolwork and social lives. Many people do not realize is that athletes who play winter sports may be jeopardizing some of their educational opportunities. During a sports season, student athletes make the decision to put their commitment to their team before almost everything else. Coaches get angry when their athletes miss practices because an absent teammate can change team dynamics and missing an entire half of a season can put an athlete and their team, at a disadvantage.

In contrast to these expectations, many athletes at Conn have risked this all in order to travel abroad. Many athletes have found that they are able to study abroad while also playing for their teams and maintaining their commitment.  . . . .

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“Travel Tips From the Movies”

Actually good advice–just remember most of it is “what not to do” **DB

“Travel Tips from the Movies”

by Joy Jonette Chuyaco via “The Phillipine Star

“MANILA, Philippines – Traveling is such a fun thing to do. As long as you have the budget, the right travel companions (although some people would prefer to travel alone) and the perfect weather, you will surely have a trip to remember. But before you go ahead and take that journey, try to consider these travel tips from the movies. They could be of help in one way or another.

Hostel. This film and its sequels tell stories about how groups of friends enjoying a trip and looking for adventures end up being in torture dens. Tip: If you are in a new place with strangers, please, please try not to be wasted! You don’t wanna end up in some strange, scary and “yucky” place holding on to your dear life.

Vacancy. A couple checks into a cheap and isolated motel, and quickly realizes that they are not safe in the room after all. They are the main casts of a new snuff film. Tip: If you feel that there is something wrong with the place you’re staying in, trust your instinct. There are websites that carry feedback on places to stay. Make use of it.

Taken. It all starts when a girl and her friend innocently share a taxi with a charming young man. What seems to be a friendly gesture turns out to be an abduction plan. Well, not to worry, Super Dad is on the way. Tip: When traveling, don’t be too friendly. Also, don’t be tricked by good looks and angelic faces. They can be the most effective tools in fooling people.

Eat, Pray, Love. After her divorce, Elizabeth feels lost and confused. She travels and hopes that her trip will help her find the answer. Tip: Have you ever tried solo traveling? If it is possible, it is sometimes good to travel on your own and have that time for yourself — to reflect about life, to discover new things, to recharge drained energy and more. . . . .”

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10 Innocent Hand Gestures You Should Never Use Abroad

10 Innocent Hand Gestures You Should Never Use Abroad

by Caroline Morse via Smarter Travel

Certain gestures that are innocent in the United States mean something completely different (and offensive) overseas. Avoid these 10 hand signals when traveling abroad!

Peace Sign With Palm Facing Inward

Trying to order two beers from the bartender or wish someone peace in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand? Make sure that when you have your index and middle fingers pointed up in the V shape, your palm is facing outward. Otherwise, you’re giving the equivalent of the middle finger.

Avoid Using In: United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Thumbs-Up

The thumbs-up signals approval in the U.S. and on Facebook, but in Afghanistan, Iran, parts of Italy, and Greece, it means “up yours.” So next time you’re trying to hitchhike in, say, Tuscany, you should reconsider before sticking out your thumb.

Avoid Using In: Afghanistan, Iran, parts of Italy, and Greece.

The OK

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10 travel scams you might not know about

“10 Travel Scams You Might Not Know About”

by Ray Pagliarulo via “Budge Travel”

“Remember the days when a fanny pack and a “game face” could protect you from getting your money stolen? We don’t either! Vacationers have always been targets for smart, enterprising crooks, and the farther you get from home, the easier it is to fall for popular vacation scams like the dropped baby, the fake fight and the I-need-five-euros-to-replace-my-lost-train-ticket. But these days, you are at risk for more than just some lost bills. Watch out for these scams from around the world that can put your personal safety—and even your very identity—at risk. . . . .”