Study abroad isn't as dangerous as it's perceived



The scene on January 7th, 2015 in Paris, France was total chaos when two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, walked into the offices of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Gunshots rang through the streets and police were under heavy fire. Ambulances filled the streets and paramedics were running back and forth taking care of the wounded. Just outside of France, IU students were studying abroad. The only thing that changed around them was an increase of police, but that was it. They continued to walk to the subway everyday and weren’t scared to go out at night. Danielle Samek, senior advisor of study abroad, remembers students checking in with her about their safety and whereabouts.    

I think the presentation should’ve kept out one slide about the cause of deaths, number of deaths, and number of attacks in Western Europe. The point Samek was trying to make was how much attacks and deaths in Western Europe has decreased, but when attack and death appears in a slide I think a red flag goes up for many of the students thinking about going. Another thing wrong with the slide was they compared how much Western Europeans were more likely to die from suicide, heat wave, and homicide than terrorism. Samek was trying to tell us that terrorism is less likely to hurt or kill you than suicide, but I think when people saw terrorism another red flag went up and completely distracted them.

A big fear factor is seeing a terrorist group, like ISIS, in the news a lot for terror attacks and deaths they have caused over in Europe. But most of ISIS’s people are in Syria and Iraq and the majority of their work happens there. The chances of a terrorist attack happening to a student is very slim and if you worry about that the entire trip I think it ruins it.

Another misconception is that when you go over to another country the biggest problem is gun violence, drugs, or natives, but instead Samek said that it’s alcohol because other countries legal drinking age is sometimes lower than the US’s. This leads to kids sometimes over drinking because they don’t know their limit. So, the number one cause of trouble can be controlled by the student who goes.

I think parents play a major role in giving their kids the idea that the stigma for study abroad is dangerous because they worry about everything that could happen, but that’s what parents do. So instead of the kid only getting their opinions from their parents who worry about every little thing that could happen, they should contact someone who works in the study abroad department and to kids who have gone. But they usually don’t, so study abroad is given a stigma of being dangerous.

Samek did a good job of showing the amount security precautions taken when a student goes to another country. I like how they follow the US government’s list of countries that are not safe to go into. I think that study abroad programs have safety as their number one priority and they are always looking for ways to improve it.