With the recent Brussels terrorist attacks by ISIS, Inside Higher Ed states that while students are not as worried about continuing to study abroad, parents are becoming very concerned.
When events such as those in Brussels occur, there are protocols in place for Universities to makes sure that all of their students are accounted for. Andrea Bordeau, the assistant director of international safety and security for Illinois International, told Inside Higher Ed: “The phone lines were jammed, cell phones weren’t working, so I relied heavily on email and social media platforms to get students checked in with me as soon as I became aware of the attacks.” The system worked well, with almost every student making contact within forty-five minutes, and those who were traveling at the time checking-in as soon as their planes touched down.
Texas Tech is one of the universities in the United States who has opted out of sending their students to Brussels for the time being. Tibor Nagy, the vice provost of international affairs at Texas Tech, explained that many of the students who go to the college are first-generation students. “I think as an institution we are more conservative in approaching our destinations. A lot of our families are concerned enough just with students going overseas.”
Most other colleges have not cut short the current semester nor removed the ability to study abroad to Brussels or other places in Europe. Because there are no issues from the U.S. Department of State or the international insurance providers with students studying abroad in Europe, it is up to the students and the parents as to whether or not they want to go abroad.
Most of the time, students are willing to go abroad, because they understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and want the adventure. Parents, on the other hand, are more afraid of the risks involved with going out of the country. Not only are they concerned with terrorism and the state of affairs in Europe, but there are also diseases such as the Zika virus in South America.
Joseph Finkhouse, the associate director for health, safety and security for Boston University’s Global Programs, stated: “It’s human nature to emphasize threats that come from other human beings, but we know that travelers are much more likely to be killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents, for example. Drowning is always a risk. Illness is a risk. … Terrorism is one that is infrequent but it could possibly have a huge impact on the university in lots of different ways.”
For a lot of people, the decision is personal. Different students and parents have their own ideas and tolerance levels when it comes to their thought of the risks involved. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity that so many students and alumni speak highly of, but in a world of changing tensions and risks, it is important to talk with parents and counselors to see if the decision is right for you.
Lead Image Credit: Floral carpet on the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium; Wouter Hagens via Wikicommons