November 2015 was one of the scariest times in recent Parisian history, creating immense sadness, anger, and fear among Parisians and throughout the world. On a personal level, November 2015 was when I was applying for a visa to begin my winter 2016 language immersion in Paris. I, too, felt sad, angry and fearful about the events in Paris and whether I would be able to study there.
Following the news attentively and speaking to my university in the United States, I went back and forth in my decision to follow through with my original plan to study in Paris. I imagine that many of you have felt the same way when deciding whether to study abroad in potentially dangerous areas throughout the world. A few key thoughts encouraged me to still go to Paris and have stayed with me now, three months later, as one of Paris’ newest study abroad students.
- Living in fear is enabling terrorism to control your life, and that is exactly what terrorists want. They want to disrupt our lives, to make us think of them regularly as we enter public places, travel, and go about our daily lives. I have reminded myself that there are many risks in the world. Of course I should be cautious, but I also need to live my life and pursue my passions.
- Terrorism and disasters can happen anywhere at anytime. If we lived everyday trying to prevent these occurrences in our lives, we wouldn’t be able to do anything or go anywhere. If we are aware of our surroundings, follow government alerts, and watch the news regularly, we can stay informed to avoid tragedies as much as possible.
- Studying abroad is one of the best ways to prevent terrorism in the the future. In many ways, terrorism is caused by limited perspectives of the world, biases, lack of understanding, and lack of education about diversity in the world. And these are the many problems that studying abroad helps solve. By living and studying in a foreign place, we develop a deeper understanding of differences in lifestyles, philosophies, and cultures. We also become more accepting of others who are different from us.
I hope that these thoughts comfort you and encourage you to continue to pursue your dreams throughout the world. Now living in Paris for the past 6 weeks, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to study here. I feel safe and have had a wonderful experience learning French and the Parisian culture. I have visited Plaza Republique, which mourns those affected by the terrorist attacks in Paris.
I feel inspired by France’s motto of “liberty, equality, and fraternity” which reminds us to live freely, and treat others equally and respectfully like a brotherhood. If we all live with these morals and have the opportunity to study abroad and fully immerse ourselves in other cultures, I strongly believe that terrorism will subside over generations to come.