About Us: The Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University
Ash Cloud Spreading Across Europe

Another volcanic ash cloud from Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano is spreading across parts of Europe, causing some major airlines to cancel flights to and from major cities such as London, Dublin and Edinburgh.

Many IFSA-Butler students are preparing to return home from spring semester programs, while others will be beginning summer programs within the next few weeks. We are hoping that the ash cloud will not significantly affect our students' travels, but we are monitoring the situation to determine the impact this may have on flights. We are giving students the following recommendations: 

  • Whether you are returning back to the U.S. or headed to Europe, arrive at your international departure airport at least 3 hours before departure
  • Monitor your airline's website frequently to stay updated on delays and cancellations
  • Do not change your airline ticket unless your flight is officially cancelled. Keeping your current ticket "as is" will help you secure a new flight as quickly as possible.
  • Students who booked their flights through Advantage Travel should contact Advantage if their flight is cancelled. Advantage will re-protect students on the next available flight.
  • If you are currently abroadand preparing to return home, keep IFSA-Butler's resident office informed if your flight is cancelled. Our resident staff in London, Edinburgh or Dublin can help you identify temporary housing and services if you must remain in your host country longer than expected.
  • Monitor key news outlets for the latest news. We recommend the following:





U.S. Issues Travel Alert
The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Alert following the announcement that U.S. troops had killed Osama Bin Laden. Please note that a Travel Alert is merely a cautionary statement, not a warning of a specific threat or incident. Today's Travel Alert, which will automatically expire in 90 days, is not affecting our current or upcoming programs in any way.

As always, we recommend that our students follow reasonable security measures once abroad. A full list of these measures is located in the "Student Safety Precautions" section of our Preparing to Study Abroad booklet. Some of our recommendations include:

  • Blend in to the local community. Socialize and study with the host university degree students.
  • Speak the language in your host country. Don't stick out by speaking English where another language is the norm.
  • Follow local security instructions. If police or other government officials have issued instructions, follow them politely and quietly.
  • Don't frequent American hangouts (fast food restaurants, clubs, U.S. Embassy or Consulate).
  • Stay away from political rallies or protests.
  • Avoid risky behavior. Abuse of alcohol or taking illegal drugs that impair your judgment can result in becoming a victim.
  • Consult local news or news websites on a regular basis to keep up to date with local and world events.

IFSA-Butler's resident office in your host country can help you stay safe. For students currently abroad, and for those who will soon begin their programs, please be sure to follow these program-specific security measures:

  • When traveling on your own (as opposed to an official IFSA-Butler excursion), please submit your travel plans to the IFSA-Butler resident office. More information about this process is included in the Student Handbook, which is distributed at orientation.
  • Carry your IFSA-Butler laminated emergency card, and your IFSA-Butler issued emergency insurance card with you at all times. Use the ICE (in case of emergency) technique of putting your local and U.S. emergency phone number(s) in your phone under ICE so that police can call someone on your behalf if necessary.
  • Should you find yourself in an emergency situation, please follow our emergency procedures as described in your IFSA-Butler Student Handbook. Call IFSA-Butler's local office; if you call after business hours, an after-hours voicemail will give emergency instructions. In the event of a national emergency where phone lines may be compromised, please e-mail our resident office using the dedicated emergency e-mail address provided at orientation.

In addition to the precautions above, we recommend enrolling in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which gives free travel and safety updates. You can also find helpful information by visiting the websites linked at the bottom of this message.

Lastly, for those students traveling soon on summer or semester 2 programs, we remind you to allow extra time for security at U.S. airports.

If you have further questions or concerns about this Travel Alert, please feel free to contact your program advisor or call us at 800-858-0229. We will be updating students and parents as necessary, though we again reiterate that there has been no specific safety threat or incident at this time.

Recommended links
U.S. State Department
IFSA-Butler Health and Safety News


New Earthquakes in Australia, New Zealand

Earthquakes hit both New Zealand and Australia on Saturday, April 16. The New Zealand earthquake hit the city of Christchurch, which has suffered two major quakes in the last year. The Australia earthquake was centered in a rural area in the state of Queensland.There were no reports of significant damage in either country.

IFSA-Butler's students in these countries were not affected by Saturday's earthquakes, as our closest program in Australia was 80 miles away from the epicenter, and our program in Christchurch was evacuated earlier in the year due to the aftermath of the February 22 earthquake.

'Minor Land Threat Warning' Issued for New Zealand

A tsunami marine and "minor land threat warning" is in effect for parts of New Zealand following an 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday.The New Zealand Civil Defence agency estimates that waves of up to 3 feet could hit the coast near Auckland by 7 a.m. local time Saturday.

The warning applies to Auckland only; no other IFSA-Butler program location in New Zealand is affected by this warning. Our New Zealand office has already cautioned students to stay away from beaches and to pay close attention to local government instructions as necessary.

For more information, we recommend the following sites:

Map of New Zealand

New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management

New Zealand Threat Level Map (pdf)

Tsunami Warning for Chile, Peru

IFSA-Butler's resident offices have been in contact with students in Chile and Peru to alert them of a tsunami warning. The tsunami is a result of a 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday, and the warning extends to coastal regions in South America.

Australia and New Zealand were initially under a tsunami warning, but authorities have now lifted the warnings for both countries. Regardless, IFSA-Butler has been in contact with students in both countries to reassure them and to emphasize the safety precautions below.

Some of the tsunami safety precautions that we have given to students, both at orientation and again today, include:

  • Stay away from beaches
  • Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
  • Do not go sightseeing
  • Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
  • Follow instructions of your local civil defense authorities
  • Share this information with friends
  • Contact your parents to assure them that you are okay

The tsunami warning applies to the following IFSA-Butler program locations:

The west coast of Mexico and coastal areas of Costa Rica are also under a tsunami warning. However, our program locations of Mérida, Mexico and Heredia, Costa Rica are not affected, as Heredia is inland and Mérida is on the east coast of Mexico.

For more information, we recommend the following websites:

International Herald Tribune
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Peru Civil Defense
(in Spanish)
Chile National Emergency Office (in Spanish)


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