From first-hand experience, Nolan was motivated to write the following about life as a student abroad in the wake of terrorist attacks. Currently studying abroad for the second time, he has witnessed terror in two different cities during deadly attacks that made headlines around the world. In the following, Nolan shares his advice and valuable perspective on what it’s like to study abroad at a time when terrorist attacks in major cities are a reality of the times in which we live:
Today is Monday, April 3, 2017.
I am in St. Petersburg, Russia. When I woke up this morning, it was just like any other day. I went to Russian class and was planning on going into the city to buy some postcards, but 15 minutes before leaving, we received news of an attack in the Russian Metro.
Monday, December 19, 2016 also felt like a normal day.
On that day, I was in Berlin, Germany. My study abroad classmates had been departing for home over the previous few days, and I was out to dinner with my host-mom to thank her for hosting me for the previous four months. It wasn’t until I reached W-Lan that I heard the horrific news of a truck driving through a German Christmas Market that was only a few miles from my host-mom and I, at a Christmas market where friends and I had shared laughs and bratwurst.
The point of this is that we cannot plan for when these things happen. We cannot avoid terror, whether you are there in the United States or abroad. These are the times we are growing up in, the times that make us grow faster and differently.
If we let events like April 3rd and December 19th dictate how we live our lives, we let terror win. In times like these, you see communities come together to stand up to fear, not bow down to its invalid authority.
In the two attacks that I have been within proximity to, AIFS has done everything in their power to make sure that students are safe, whether it be after events like these or in something as simple as day to day life. Be smart. Be aware. Be venturous.
So please do not let events like these keep you from studying abroad. The world is a big place, with danger at almost every corner, but the likelihood of this is minimal — and a life spent hiding is one spent without meaning.
This post was contributed by Nolan Osborn, who is spending this semester studying abroad with AIFS in St. Petersburg, Russia. He also studied abroad with AIFS in Berlin, Germany the previous semester.