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Is It Safe to Study Abroad?

Studying abroad can be very beneficial to a student. Not only do studies abroad give an opportunity to see the world, but they introduce students to different styles, ways, and systems of education. This allows students to see their field of study in a new way.

When studying abroad, many students choose to live with a host family, which allows them to gain a deep understanding and familiarity of the new culture, learn or master a foreign language, and make lifelong friends. Students get a chance to immerse themselves in a different way of life.

When studying in a country that is a member of the European Union, students are not limited to traveling only within the country of their study. They can go to any country that is a member of the union and see various parts of Europe. Depending on their passport, they may be able to go to countries outside the European Union, as well. Is it safe for students to study abroad and travel to various countries? Do students choose to study abroad because they are young and feel immortal or because they know danger is possible anywhere and that won’t stop them from living their lives?

Terrorist and Other Attacks

Living in a foreign country comes with its own risks. For example, at the time of the terrorist attacks at the Brussels airport in Belgium, the University of Illinois had more than 50 students in the country. According to its communication protocols, the university quickly got in touch with all of them and checked that they were safe.

In 2017, 14 people were killed and 100 injured during an ISIS attack in Barcelona. Terrorists killed eight people and injured 48 others in London attacks in June 2017. Only a week earlier, 22 people were killed during an attack in Manchester during Ariana Grande’s concert.

In 2015 and 2016, terrorist attacks also occurred in France, Germany, and Belgium, and resulted in close to 300 deaths and more than 1,000 people who were injured. In September 2017, four students from Boston College studying abroad were attacked with acid in the French city of Marseille. This attack was not an act of terror. The attacker had a history of mental problems.

Study Abroad Stats

Statistics from the Institute of International Education demonstrate that the number of students in Spain after Madrid bombings of 2004 and in the United Kingdom after London terrorist attacks of 2005 did not go down.

According to data from 2016, more than 300,000 of American students chose to participate in studying abroad. The United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany were four top destinations that accounted for more than 30 percent of all American students studying abroad in 2016.  The data shows that recent terrorist attacks have minimal impact on the desire of students to study in the European Union.

When sending students abroad, most schools in the United States follow travel guidelines from the U.S. Department of State. After several terrorist attacks in the European Union, the U.S. Department of State issued warnings and travel alerts, but it did not advise against traveling to Europe.

The Department of State collects data on deaths of Americans that occur abroad. According to this data, 844 Americans died abroad in 2016. Only 2 percent of these deaths happened because of terrorist activities, which is one of the reasons why terrorist attacks did not drive American students away from choosing to study abroad.

American universities usually restrict study in the countries that are present on the State Department’s travel warning list. Some universities go as far as banning travel to countries and areas with active travel warnings.

Stay Safe When Studying

If you plan to study in the European Union, familiarize yourself with crime and safety statistics. Learn about cities and areas that are dangerous and crime ridden. For example, the most frequent crimes in German cities are vandalism and theft. Also, football-related hooliganism has been on the rise in the recent years.

Once you learn about the frequent crimes, be vigilant, prepared, and cautious. For example, it may be a good idea to avoid large crowds during soccer matches or political demonstrations. You should also be mindful when it comes to other large events and gatherings, especially if there is alcohol involved. Oktoberfest is one such event.

One of the biggest mistakes Americans, especially young Americans, make in Europe is drinking too much. The legal drinking age in many European countries is younger than in the United States. For example, legal drinking age in Germany is 16 years old for beer and wine and 18 for spirits.

Drinking in a public setting where there are a lot of young men and there’s heavy alcohol consumption happening, may be risky for both men and women. Because of this, it is better to go with someone you trust, avoid unsafe areas, and use common sense.

Would you like to study in Europe? Do you think studying abroad broadens your horizons?