Saturday, July 13, 2024

Safety crutial while studying abroad

A bus crash in Spain March 20 left 14 international students dead and 30 others injured. The students were on their way to Barcelona when the bus lost control off of the highway.

Upon hearing of the crash, my mind went directly to my friends and loved ones who are currently studying abroad. I’d be devastated if I were to discover anything happened to them. I have two ex-boyfriends in Africa, a cousin in China and friends in France, Ireland and Iceland.

So many students are eager to study abroad, and for good reason. Many people my age have this horrible, aching sense of wanderlust. Don’t get me wrong, if someone handed me a one-way ticket out of the U.S., I’d gladly have a grab at it.

However, you can’t help but consider the risks.

With the November terrorist attacks in Paris, and the recent attacks in Belgium and Pakistan, I’m sure parents of college students aren’t exactly ready or willing to hand over a study abroad fund to their college students. The world is a pretty dangerous place in general right now.

I spoke with Hayley Humiston, a friend of mine who attends St. Lawrence University and was abroad in France last semester during the attacks. She was at her host parents’ house, about two hours from Paris, and said she didn’t even know the attacks happened all day until her host family finally put on the news that night. She said the French don’t watch TV nearly as much as Americans do. She said she was worried for her safety, but her host parents assured her the situation would likely be handled.

Despite the attacks, she remained in France and continued to roam and explore without consequence. Though she did note that security was at a steady increase in her remaining time in France. has ranked countries from most dangerous to least; one being the most dangerous, 196 being the most peaceful. The answers were only semi-surprising. Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were ranked most dangerous. The UK was ranked 124th, France was 118th, Ireland was 151st and Australia was 154th. An ex-boyfriend of mine is stationed in Malawi in West Africa and even that is ranked 111th.

The United States is ranked 69th.

That leaves you questioning, doesn’t it? There are a lot of people out there who are so afraid to get out and travel and experience the world. Parents are reluctant to see their children leave because of things they see in the news. In reality, our own country is pretty dangerous itself.

If you’re really that fearful, the top three most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark and Austria, according to the Global Peace Index. Being afraid for your safety isn’t an excuse to not explore and gain worldly knowledge.

Danger is right in our backyard. It’s really everywhere, but if we were always so fearful that something awful was going to happen to us every minute of the day, we’d be boarded up in our houses, in the fetal position, bracing for impact. We’d never get to experience life.

We take risks every day by simply getting into a vehicle or crossing the road. We don’t anticipate terrorism or tragedies every minute of the day. If we did, we’d be living a constant, worrisome existence.

There will always be violence in the world. Accidents happen every day, but there’s no way to pinpoint when and where they’ll happen. Traveling may be a risk, but it’s one of the best risks you can possibly take.

Email Courtney Casey at

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