Why Going To University Abroad Is Smart, Even If It Is “Unsafe”

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Making the decision to attend university abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Born and raised in America, I knew going to university provided me with the opportunity to gain international experience I never would have otherwise had. That’s why, upon reading this article, I got angry.

Emily Gauci wrote for the Odyssey, claiming that the US government shouldn’t allow its students the ability to study abroad because Europe is too unsafe with the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels – along with alleged future terrorist plans. She states that “college students are America’s future, and the last thing any parent wants to do is to bury their own child.” Apparently the crime and violence issues in America have been forgotten here.

On Patriots’ Day, 15 April 2013, innocent citizens of the USA were attacked, crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon when two bombs were detonated. America is not invincible, and we certainly cannot guarantee 100% safety wherever we go. Did those living in Boston move away because it was too “unsafe” a city? Did students in Boston transfer to other universities to diminish their parents fears of having to bury them? No.

This is the thing about terrorism; it’s meant to terrify. But what sort of life are you living if you let every single act of terrorism or violence determine where you live or study? If we aren’t limiting where students may study within America, why should we in Europe?

Europe is, in terms of crime and violence, considerably safer than America. It’s important to note that no European cities appear in the top 50 deadliest cities (based off of murder rates), whilst four American cities do. Americans may walk into a Walmart and come out with a gun; Europeans can’t. According to data from Mass Shooting Tracker (mass shootings refer to any incident in which 4 or more people are killed), in 2015 alone 475 were killed and over 1,800 injured in America. With these sort of statistics and Gauci’s misguided arguments, I’m not sure any student in America should be allowed to leave their house, let alone attend university.

Every chance comes with a risk. We grow up learning to make decisions by weighing the pros and cons of each opportunity. On one hand, studying abroad gives you the experience to live in a new country and experience a culture very different to yours. It gives people the chance to gain international friendships, independence, and an appreciation of home. And the cons? Maybe you’ll be a bit homesick. And maybe studying abroad is deemed “unsafe” but, in this day and age, the reality is that everywhere is “unsafe.”

We live in a world full of crime, violence, and terrorism. But this doesn’t mean that choosing to study abroad is a path to your death bed. We don’t stop driving because of the risk of being in a fatal crash. We don’t avoid the cinema because of the 2012 Aurora movie theatre shooting. And we certainly shouldn’t disregard studying abroad because of potential terrorist attacks. We’re better than that.

Living life in fear of what may happen means the bad guys have already won. Studying abroad has provided me with some of the most valuable life lessons and experiences, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I’ve fallen in love with a country I hardly knew anything about 3 years ago – besides the Royal Family and David Beckham of course. I’ve gained lifelong friendships. I’ve learned that if I can move to a foreign country all by myself, I have the strength to do just about anything. And most of all, I’ve gained a deep appreciation for my home, family, and friends far more than I could have ever imagined.

Studying abroad isn’t any more unsafe than studying in America. There’s risk everywhere we go, and being in Europe has allowed me to learn about myself in so many different ways. And there is no reason the US government should stop me from doing that.

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Wessex Scene Online Manager 2015-2016, Head of Design 2016-2017

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