Thai unrest disrupts study abroad

Students forced to rethink plans following Canadian advisory against travel to Thailand

Kimberley Mosher, Comm ’08, decided to go to the ISC after her Thailand exchange fell through.
Kimberley Mosher, Comm ’08, decided to go to the ISC after her Thailand exchange fell through.

Kimberley Mosher’s plans to spend a semester abroad at Chulalongkorn University changed when a series of bombs exploded downtown on Dec. 31, killing three people and wounding 28.

Mosher, Comm ’08, was supposed to go to Thailand on Jan. 2, but on New Year’s Day, the Centre for International Management, which organizes exchanges for the Queen’s School of Business, asked her to delay her trip to Bangkok for about a week in order to assess the safety of the situation.

“Within the next 48 hours, the travel advisory hadn’t changed for Thailand,” Mosher said.

She had to make a decision.

Mosher could have gone to Thailand if she wanted, but with the government and Queen’s advising Canadians not to visit Bangkok, she decided to look for alternative exchanges.

“I didn’t want to worry about something having to happen. I would’ve always been looking over my shoulder instead of enjoying myself,” she said.

Nine days after the initial phone call, Mosher was on a plane headed to the Queen’s International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in England. “I was shocked at how accommodating the school was for me,” she said. “Within the span of four days, I’d gone from going to Thailand to not going to Thailand to going to the castle.”

Mosher said she was initially disappointed but is happy with the arrangement because she was originally wanting to go to Europe anyway.

Angela James, Centre of International Management director, said the University follows the lead of the Canadian government when it comes to travel advisories.

“If the government says don’t go, the University says don’t go,” she said.

James said the three students were planning to go to Thailand; one student decided to go against the advisory and the other two students were willing to stay back and explore their options.

“One of the students did end up going and basically, we can’t nail him to the ground here. If he wanted to go, he could go,” she said. “He will receive support from us.”

James said the student advised the student to look into his health insurance because sometimes if people travel under a travel warning, insurance companies will void insurance.

James refused to name any of the students but the has learned Derek Candy, Comm ’08, went to Thailand and Emily Jackson, also Comm ’08, will either go to Singapore or Hong Kong.

Candy was unavailable for comment and Jackson chose not to comment.

Bernard Nguyen, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said a travel warning is based on a consultation with a particular embassy, consulate office or the consulate general.

“Before you go to any country, what you do is check our website,” he said.

Nguyen said the department is monitoring the situation and advising Canadians to avoid Bangkok and southern parts of Thailand as much as possible.

“The latest travel warning that was issued at the end of December has to do with what happened in Bangkok,” he said.

“We don’t recommend non-essential travel to the capital of Bangkok and for those who are in Bangkok, [we advise them] to maintain a high level of personal security and awareness,” Nguyen said.

For Canadians who are currently in Thailand, Nguyen said department recommends that all Canadians should register with the Canadian embassy.

“When the event took place, the first thing the embassy would do is to contact Canadians and to make sure of their well-being or [ask] if they need any assistance,” he said.

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