After Paris, will USD students still study abroad?
ELISABETH SMITH | ASST. NEWS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA
On Nov. 14 a series of terrorist attacks in Paris left 120 dead and 352 people injured, according to official reports. After the attacks, security in France and all around Europe has heightened and more than 160 anti-terror police raids were conducted across Paris. In light of these events, University of San Diego students who planned to travel abroad in Europe for intersession and spring semester questioned their safety.
Sophomore Kari Fiske plans to go to Florence for intersession. Fiske expressed that she felt safe traveling to Europe, and did not intend on altering any parts of her itinerary. Despite her personal feelings, the official itinerary for USD students was adjusted after the incidents.
“USD cancelled our trip to Rome and to a soccer game,” Fiske said. “I understand why USD would cancel these events, but if I was going with my family I would still do everything. I feel safe.”
Kira Espiritu PhD., director of International Studies Abroad, gave a statement regarding the safety of students traveling abroad and itinerary changes.
“The safety and security of our students is our top priority and we are monitoring the situation abroad with information from many entities including the US State Department, US Embassies, our international insurance security analysts and the USD Department of Public Safety,” Espiritu said. “To date, USD is planning to continue with all scheduled programs in Europe this Intersession as well as in the Spring. However, we are making adjustments to our calendar of activities for some programs based on security warnings from the US Embassy.”
The US Embassy and US State Department issued a Worldwide Travel Alert on the State Department website, Nov. 23. The alert warns travelers to use extreme caution while traveling anywhere in the world, and it expires Feb. 24, 2016.
“There is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis,” the alert states. “Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.”
The State Department also offers resources for travelers like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which travelers can enroll in to receive security messages and make it easier to be located in an emergency.
Espiritu echos the embassy’s warning that students are always encouraged to be vigilant while traveling, and advised that they also pay attention to security warnings and local law enforcement while abroad.
With assurance from the study abroad office, sophomore Hannah Talpash and her family decided to keep her travel plans to study in Germany for the spring.
“After the Paris attacks, my mom was very worried about me traveling abroad,” Talpash said. “I met with my advisor and she assured me that the university is doing everything they can to make sure that it is safe for us to leave. They allowed me to sign up for classes at USD, in case there is another attack and I decide not to go.”
Sophomores James Douglas and Jack Bonacci are studying together in Florence, Italy for the spring semester. The friends expressed that they believe security will be tighter throughout Europe, so they are not worried about their safety.
“I feel like if I had [changed travel plans], then I would succumb to the intimidation that terrorists intend to spread,” Douglas said. “I’m selfishly refusing to yield to any sort of consternation that would get in the way of what will be a life-changing experience.”
Bonacci concurred with his friend, echoing that he will not let the fear of terrorism stop his travels.
“I believe that traveling anywhere comes with danger, and that, for safety, remaining skeptical and cautious at all times is a must regardless of where one travels,” Bonacci said. “I never considered canceling my trip in light of the attacks. If I did, the terrorists would be winning. I am not ignorant of the dangers of traveling in Europe, but I do believe that canceling the trip of a lifetime would be conceding to the powers of terrorism.”
A general consensus of students studying abroad shows feeling of security while planning for their travels in Europe. The USD International office provided students with necessary information and resources needed to travel safely. With the proper alertness, these students will embark on a journey of culture, food, and fun.