Tag Archives: Safety

Step Out, Take a Chance

8 Feb

“But a planet can also become dark because of “too strong a desire for security … the greatest evil there is.” Meg resists her father’s analysis. What’s wrong with wanting to be safe? Mr. Murry insists that “lust for security” forces false choices and a panicked search for safety and conformity. This reminded me that my grandmother would get very annoyed when anyone would talk about “the power of love.” Love, she insisted, is not power, which she considered always coercive. To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.” 

** A Wrinkle in Time

Life in China ~ #Ivacy #VPN

5 Jun

Image result for Ivacy

Hey guys!  I’m about to test out a new VPN called Ivacy.  I’m curious to see how it works. I’m downloading it today, and I’ll put it through it’s paces. Then I’ll let you all know how it goes!  Can’t wait to see how it compares to Vypr and Astrill!  I’ll also be posting a 2017 update on Vypr in the next couple weeks! 

So much going on in the VPN department!  Exciting! 

*yes, I am a nerd – these things excite me 😛

Don’t #Fence Me In!

25 May

DSC04904

Chinese historical sites (and some city buildings) here in Henan have a tendency to have these sharp warnings NOT to climb the walls.  Given how much looting and destruction they’ve faced with their heritage in the past, it is a pointed (pun intended) reminder that history is to be protected, not stolen or broken.  Also – avoid the Baiju (China’s alcoholic beverage which is as much as 70% alcohol). Getting drunk on that and stupidly climbing the fence is a REALLY BAD idea here!

#Fire Drill – #China Style!

20 May

#Fire drill! #China style! 📣 Because we take your security seriously – we use real #smoke bombs to stink the building up, train you to go through usually locked doors, and ask that you guess when a fire starts because we have no smoke alarms. But you know, security!  At least now maybe they’ll stop padlocking all the outside doors at night 😂

Study Abroad Programs Addresses a Risk – Road Fatalaties

18 Oct

Study Abroad Programs Addresses a Risk – Road Fatalaties

by Tanya Mohn via “New York Times

The number of Americans who study abroad in credit-earning programs has more than tripled in the last two decades to reach a high of nearly 304,500 in the 2013-14 academic year, and the number studying in non-European countries has nearly doubled in the last decade to 118,625, the Institute of International Education said.

“The problem is educating students in something they are not used to thinking about,” said Inés DeRomaña. She is director of international health, safety and emergency response for the University of California system’s Education Abroad Program, which sends 5,600 students, from all 10 campuses, overseas annually, including to remote areas.

Road fatalities are a risk for young people everywhere. They are the leading cause of death for teens and young adults in the United States and worldwide, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization show. But the concern for educators is that students heading abroad may not consider some uniquely local risks of road travel — particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where W.H.O. figures indicate about 90 percent of the globe’s road-traffic deaths occur.

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“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

25 Apr

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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International crises heighten study-abroad awareness

4 Apr

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

1 Apr

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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Life abroad: Vypr VPN

21 May

**I fixed the prices – I was doing it monthly, but I went back and re-calculated the price based on an annual purchase 🙂 Much cheaper that way!

Vypr VPN

A while back, I did a review of Astrill’s VPN service and quite a few of you were interested in learning more about other VPN services!  

The internet is a wonderful, beautiful place full of friends, libraries, travelers, and fellow photographers. It is also a dark and scary place full of perverts, hackers, and identity thieves. Personally, I want to be able to access the first group while putting myself at less of a risk of the second group! Wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

 

I’ve now tried a few VPN programs here and there, and I wanted to keep you updated on my findings.  

VYPR

I had heard about VyprVPN before, since quite a few people at my institution like to use the program instead of Astrill.  If any of you have been following my updates and the news, you would know that Astrill has been off and on recently.  I’ve had a lot of problems where it doesn’t work on my IPad, and it is frequently stopped working on my computer as well. I have days where it is not operating and right now, about once a day I have to turn it off and re-boot the program. Plus, they recently had to put out a warning that a government in Asia had seized their servers in an investigation. While that doesn’t affect me, a lot of users weren’t happy that they were that vulnerable.

So when I recently was given the opportunity to test out VyprVPN, I thought I’d give it a try.  The people I know who use it gave it pretty good references through last year, and now here I’ll give you info on my experiences with it. 🙂

In interest of comparing this with Astrill, I’ve used the same 2+ people on several devices as my basis for both.

Price: $100/year (billed annually).

Review:  There is a basic plan ($80/yr)  that has almost all the features (minus: the Firewall, some cloud storage, other protocols), but it only allows for 1 simultaneous connection. Given that my family has two people online most of the time, 1 connection wouldn’t be enough.  So I need to get the VyprVpnPro system at $100/yr.  It comes with everything I need, and includes 2 simultaneous connections.  You would definitely want to buy it annually, the price almost doubles if you do it monthly.

You can start with a 3-day free trial, and cancel it if you don’t like it. I like this process, because it lets me see if it will really work before I hand over that much money.

If you do decide Vypr is for you, go through this link for an extra 50% off your first month 🙂

Installation: Easy (very)

Review: There were no problems with Installation, it downloaded smoothly and started right up. One small confusing thing is that the website for Vypr is called GoldenFrog, so go to http://www.goldenfrog.com to set up an account.  You’ll start by setting up the account and getting your username and password.  Then you need to download the program.

Download process is easy, just double click to open the installation program and walk through the steps. Unlike with Astrill, there were no problems with the Proxy Settings on my computer, the instant I downloaded it, it went to work!

Use: Easy (pretty much)

Thankfully, the interface of the program is pretty easy to use. If you have a techno-dummy on your hands, they can use this without too much trouble.  

When I turn on my computer, I open the program from my desktop.  You can set it up to start automatically if you want.  The box will look like this:

Untitled picture

If you want to just connect right away, just click the blue connect button. If you want to change locations, click the exclamation mark looking blue button.  

The little gear in the top right corner is where you can change the protocols.

That’s all there is to it! Just click connect and then close the program when you’re done.

Access: Scattered 

First, let me say that this part may be unfair to Vypr.  Many people in my school swear by Vypr; they claim that it is tons better than Astrill and works great for them.  At least 2 other people though have had the same problem I have – none of the servers connect on our computers.

The technology is easy to use but works sporadically and is highly unreliable for me – remember others say it works fine in the same building.  Their website says that if Vypr is not working with a US connection, try hooking in to Netherlands or Hong Kong.  I’ve had a lot of problems with Vypr’s connections in the US, so I tend to rely on the Netherlands or Hong Kong system.  However, that is still very sketchy in regards to successful connections. Plus, there are several websites that require that you be connected to the US for them to work, such as Hulu.  

So far, on my Apple Products, Vypr is more reliable than Astrill.  However, Astrill is more reliable on my Windows Laptop.  It’s kind of a toss-up there. I have not attempted either on a Mac, but I would presume that Astrill is less reliable on a Mac as well. 

Customer Service: Good

Actually, I haven’t really had a reason to talk to their technical support. I have asked questions of my account manager though, and he was incredibly personable and friendly.  Vypr has been very gracious when I speak with them, and I haven’t had any problems on that front!

Conclusion: This service isn’t great on my Windows laptop, I have a hard time getting a connection, even through Hong Kong or Netherlands.  On the other hand, it’s been pretty stable on my Ipad, so there’s that.  Other users have conflicting experiences. Some swear by it and others say it’s not working much.

The program is expensive, more than some competitors, but if it works on your Mac when other programs don’t that might be worth the cost.  I don’t have any problems with turning it on and off, it’s incredibly easy to use. I like that I can change servers as often as I want!  I also like that there is a program no matter what device I use.  There aren’t any add-ons you have to pay for or consider which is pretty sweet; they just come with the program.

All in all, if I could figure out how to make the connection work more often, I would really like this system.  Maybe y’all have some tips?

This is my experience with Vyprvpn, anyone want to throw in their opinion of ExpressVPN to give a comparison?  How have you done with Apple Products here? Windows? Android?

CAQ: Is China Safe?!? – The Health Issue: Pollution

27 Feb

Continuing the Commonly Asked Questions series based on questions people give me about China.  While it may not answer everything, I hope that it will clear up some big misconceptions people  have about this beautiful country.  You can find the first part “Is China Safe: the Size/Language Issue Here.

CAQ #2: Is China Safe?!? ~ the Health Issue: Pollution

Yes, this is really what my city looks like some days

 

Concern: China is a scary place with backdoor doctors, unsanitary practices,  horrifying pollution, and dangerous hazards lying around everywhere.

I’ll start by addressing Pollution in this post~ the biggest concern for most people.  Is there  pollution in China? ~ Yes, of course there is.  There is also a lot of pollution in the US, Korea,  Japan, England, India, etc.  Is smog a problem? ~ Yes, smog can be a bad problem, especially on   certain days.  The worst of the smog arrives when we haven’t had rain in a while (Henan had a  drought this year, so that didn’t help), when they burn off the fields in the fall, and when the  machines are running extra long at the local factories.  There are certain days when skyscrapers  right in front of you completely disappear and you can taste the acid in the air.  I’d say that’s been about 7-8 days in my first semester here in China (Aug-Feb).  It can be really, really bad.

1

My City Today

 

Of course, I live in Zhengzhou which is one of the worst cities in China, so I can’t measure the rest of China by that. You can see a rating every day for most Chinese cities’ pollution level here, and  Zhengzhou is always pretty bad. But if Zhengzhou is the worst they have to offer, I don’t  think the problem is as prevalent as people believe. 

First, I’d like to say (and I’ll probably repeat this in later posts), a large part of your ability to withstand the smog depends on your own body.  Personally, I generally suffer from serious skin sensitivity and asthma; one bad day in the US will knock me out.  But in China, I’m actually the healthiest I’ve been in a while. My skin clears up, my asthma goes away, I suffer fewer headaches, I’m breathing much better.  Others are the opposite; they’re fine in the States and then get landblasted with respiratory illnesses here.  I think a lot of it is dependent on how your body likes certain environments. Mine seems to like China.  

Furthermore, as far as actual pollution goes, it isn’t like every single day I am terrified of  walking out the door. Only about 2-3 days this semester have I been unwilling to leave  without a mask.There is also the fact that Zhengzhou has coal mines not to far away ~ and  that always adds to the issue, just look at the coal towns in West Virginia.  We have to dust about  twice a week to clean the black off everything, especially outside windows. That gives me a few  concerns about Black Lung or something similar, but it’s my own fault for choosing to live so close  to the coal mines.

Seeing the sun in a bright blue sky is a pretty rare sight around here, but we do get it, especially  after a rain.  And I can see the stars many nights, so long as the fireworks haven’t smoked the  place up. I breath fine for the most part, although I know some people who struggle.  They do have masks everywhere; you can always pick one up to help you out. I personally never really use them unless it’s during the crop burning week. 

One nice part about China is that the people here are incredibly health conscious and actively work to clean the mess up.Even big  factory owners know that their children have to breathe in ‘the air they create; it provides a lot of incentive to clean the mess up. ‘They are truly worried about the situation, and there are constant 

discussions on how to eliminate or guard yourself against the threat posed by air pollution.  They  have extremely advanced masks, they make sure that everyone knows what days to avoid going  outside and what days it’s okay. They are constantly planting trees, bushes, shrubs, and adding water in an effort to combat the problem and reoxygenate the air.  Zhengzhou even bought a “Smog  Machine!”  It goes around the streets spraying water in an effort to cleanse the air.  🙂 

If you move further out of the big cities, the problem isn’t half as bad anyway.

So maybe some cities in China are worse than most of the United States, but they are working with millions more factories, mines, people and other pollution causing issues. As my student’s say,  just look at the advancements they have already made in eliminating causation factors. Give them a few more years, and they will probably have advanced in leaps and bounds.  They like their  clean air, and generally the Chinese are a stubborn/innovative set. If they want clean air, they’ll  find a way to get it. It just takes time and patience, and a willingness to wear a mask every so often till the problem is fixed.

 

 

 

 

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