Terrorism and Studying Abroad: the Reality

Jul 3, 2017 3:30:00 PM / by Julie Ritz

CAPA_CatGloria_Dublin_Headshot.pngCat Gloria is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Journalism major at the University of Florida, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week's post, Cat discusses why being afraid of terrorism shouldn't stop you from studying abroad.


Studying abroad can seem scary enough, why let terrorism add to the fear? 

Terrorism is nothing new. The history of terrorism dates all the way back to 1 AD with a group in Judea who assassinated anyone in collaboration with Roman rule and it has been present ever since. The main tactic of terrorism is in the word itself: to spread terror. Some say it has succeeded in doing so, but as a study abroad student it’s important to disprove that notion.

Modern terrorist acts can happen at any time and in any city, that’s the reality of it. People have no way of knowing when it’s going to happen so there’s two courses of action that we can take; to either live in our bedrooms, or explore and try not to think of the threat.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Summer2017_From Cat Gloria Outdoors 2.jpg

The following are two made-up scenarios:

1) Let’s say I choose to stay safe.

I go to the grocery store once every two weeks to get enough food to survive on. I go to school and work and come right home. I go out on my balcony to see the sunset every so often. But besides that, I stay in. I watch Netflix on my laptop most nights. I do yoga in my living room. I explore my host city via Google. Every weekend I wave goodbye to my friends as they go to explore a new city.

There is very little chance that I will get caught in a terrorist attack. I am perfectly safe, and I arrive back home in one piece. So yeah, it sounds like the life...

Except for one thing. I will have spent a few years salary to study abroad and have learned nothing, experienced nothing, and have no stories to tell about my host country. I will have spent my exciting time abroad in my room. I might as well have plastered a wallpaper of the city onto my windows back home and lived in my bedroom there, for free.

But then again, I'm safe.

2. On the other hand.

Say I choose to risk it and live large. Every morning I wake up hours before my class and I walk to a park where I do yoga and play with local dogs. On my way home I walk along the river and people watch. My friends and I go on a trip each weekend to explore a new city. The fear of terrorism is in the back of my head, but I get too lost in the fun of it all to really worry about it.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Summer2017_From Cat Gloria Outdoors 3.jpg

One day I am walking in the city and I hear a scream, then another. People are running towards me. Rain is hitting the pavement, but I can’t hear it over the crazed crowd. I start running too. I hear someone say a bomb has gone off at a nearby station. We all keep running until we make it to the nearest coffee shop and they close the doors behind us. Policemen are outside already. Were all huddled together, even though were strangers.

I get a phone call from CAPA making sure I am all right. They tell me to stay calm and that everything is under control. When everything is safe outside, policemen escort us out and I get a ride home. I am safe.

So there are my two options. But to put them into perspective, the chance that I would actually be killed in a terrorist act is 1 in 3.6 billion (1). Not to mention, I haven’t even spoken yet about the safety precautions study abroad programs have for situations like these…

Safety precautions

Study abroad programs like CAPA are praised for their safety measures. For one thing, they make us fill out a form for every trip we take. So if something happens in Brussels when were there they know exactly where were staying, who were with and the phone numbers of everyone. If we ever find ourselves in an emergency, we can call CAPA at any hour and they will assist us. And this isn’t just true for CAPA programs; many other programs also prioritize safety.

In addition, police forces worldwide have tightened their security. I was in Brussels only a week ago and there are soldiers walking around in full uniform holding rifles all over the city.

A conclusion

So it’s up to you. But when weighing out the pros and cons keep in mind not only the minute probability of ever being killed in an attack, but also the large amount of safety precautions in place if anything were to happen.

Either let the terrorists get what they want and spend your time abroad in fear or live above them and explore the city openly, yet safely.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Dublin_Summer2017_From Cat Gloria Outdoors 1.jpg


Thanks Cat!

Cat's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Dublin Program

Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Safety Abroad