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Posted at 9:56 AM ET, 10/ 3/2010

Where kids study in Europe, and what they should do now

By Valerie Strauss

If your child is one of thousands of students studying abroad in Europe or planning to this year, first read the new State Department alert issued today (see below) about the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. And then, don’t panic.

Europe is the top destination for U.S. college students studying abroad, according to the Institute for International Education.

The latest available figures show that in 2007-08, some 262,000 Americans (65 percent of them female, 36 percent of them juniors, 21.5) traveled abroad to study and 148,000 went to Europe. The leading countries:

United Kingdom -- 33,333
Italy -- 30,670
Spain -- 25,212
France -- 17,336
Germany -- 8,253
Ireland -- 6,881
Greece -- 3,847
Czech Republic -- 3,417
Austria -- 3,356
Netherlands -- 2,038
Russia -- 1,942

The top three fields of study: social sciences, 21.5 percent; business and management, 20.2 percent; humanities, 13.3 percent.

There is no guarantee that students studying abroad will be safe -- and the same can be said for studying in the United States -- but there are steps people can take to reduce their risks. Millions of students have, and will continue, to study abroad safely.

Studentsabroad.com, a Web site of The Center for Global Education, has this free handbook online which provides a wide range of information for students, families and school administrators on how to stay safe while abroad. The Web site has other valuable advice as well.


Here’s what the State Department advises your child to do if he/she is studying abroad:

Check for travel warnings and travel alerts. Travel Warnings recommend U.S. citizens defer travel to a country because of dangerous conditions. Travel Alerts provide fast-breaking information about relatively short-term conditions that may pose risks to the security of travelers.

Register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department’s travel registration Web site . Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts may not be released without your express authorization. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States. (U.S. embassy and consulate locations can be found in the country’’s Country Specific Information.) If your family needs to reach you because of an emergency, they can pass a message to you through the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 202-647-5225. This office will contact the embassy or consulate in the country where you are traveling and pass a message from your family to you. Remember consular officers cannot cash checks, lend money or serve as your attorney. They can, however, if the need arises, assist you in obtaining emergency funds from your family, help you find an attorney, help you find medical assistance, and replace your lost or stolen passport.

Find out what information your school offers. Find out whether your school offers additional information for students who are planning to study, travel, or work abroad. Many student advisors can provide you with information about studying or working abroad. They may also be able to provide you with information on any travel benefits for students (e.g. how to save money on transportation and accommodations, and other resources.)

Before committing yourself or your finances, find out about the organization and what it offers. The majority of private programs for vacation, study or work abroad are reputable and financially sound. However, some charge exorbitant fees, use deliberately false "educational" claims, and provide working conditions far different from those advertised. Even programs of legitimate organizations can be poorly administered.

Students Gov
Association of International Educators
U.S. Network for Education Information


Here’s the State Department alert:

- State Department notice issued today about the potential for terrorists attacks in Europe. The alert expires Jan. 11:

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.

U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

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By Valerie Strauss  | October 3, 2010; 9:56 AM ET
Categories:  College Life  | Tags:  al-Qaida, bin laden, europe, students in europe, study abroad, study europe, terrorism, terrorism alert, terrorist attacks, travel alert, travel destinations, travel safety, travel tips, travel to europe  
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Comments

Been there, done that.
Ignore the state department and don't act like an American. Listen to your host, not the the US government. Your host in the foreign country knows MUCH more about the situation than politically directed American government bureaucrats.
Don't hang out with crowds of Americans. Foreigners aren't evil. You're the foreigner now. Have fun.

Posted by: glenmayne | October 3, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I've been living in Europe for 5 years now. No one...and I mean NO ONE...has been targeting American individuals simply as Americans. There has not been even one instance of that.

Ironically, you're infinitely safer in most ANY European city than in most ANY American big city. The murder/serious crime rates that exist in American cities are simply unknown in most all of Europe...or even most of the rest of the "civilized world.

Posted by: Rigged | October 3, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I've been living in Europe for 5 years now. No one...and I mean NO ONE...has been targeting American individuals simply as Americans. There has not been even one instance of that.

Ironically, you're infinitely safer in most ANY European city than in most ANY American big city. The murder/serious crime rates that exist in American cities are simply unknown in most all of Europe...or even most of the rest of the "civilized world."

Posted by: Rigged | October 3, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

A friend's daughter just started college in an American school in Switzerland. I'm sure she will be fine, but the bigger point to me is why does an American even leave the country to attend college in Europe?

Posted by: kodonivan | October 3, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"[W]hy does an American even leave the country to attend college in Europe?" Posted by: kodonivan

Sorry, but by asking the question you make it clear that you would not understand the answer.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | October 3, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Re: kodonivan's comments,

Why does an American leave the country to attend an American school in Europe? She should learn German and attend a Swiss school.

Posted by: glenmayne | October 3, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

France still accepts foreign students if they qualify. This means a world class education in Paris for almost nothing. Start teaching French to your child at 2.

The food for French students is quite good.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 3, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

For over a decade now the psych op operatives in the US government have been fomenting mass fear over a man who lives in some cave somewhere far away. Why not just tell us that Martians are about to invade Europe and seek out Amis only! Does this madness, like those stupid bloody wars, have no end?

Posted by: Spiritof761 | October 3, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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