The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Students studying abroad unfazed by threat of war

War against Iraq seems imminent at this point. Despite the weeks America has spent elevated to an orange code alert for terrorism attacks, Southern Methodist University students insist their study abroad plans are also imminent.

According to the United States government and the media, it is only a matter of time before our troops will become active in Iraq. Not only are Americans at risk for another terrorist attack on U.S. soil; Western European countries in the NATO alliance, such as Britain, Italy and France are also at risk. These nations are among the most popular of SMU study abroad destinations.

Many would believe that students are hesitant to study abroad after Sept. 11, and the current uncertainty of threat of more attacks. However, this is not the case.

Karen Westergard, Director of International Studies at SMU, says, “The applications for studying abroad, both summer and semester, or year-long terms, are on track. Compared to the previous years the numbers have stayed the same, if not risen.”

Should abroad students be afraid to travel?

A worldwide caution for traveling abroad posted by the U.S. Department of State said that, “It is being issued to remind U.S. citizens of the need to remain vigilant due to a heightened threat of terrorist actions that may target civilians, including the possibility of attacks by non-conventional weapons. It also reminds American citizens traveling or living overseas to avoid demonstrations and provides standard preparedness advice.”

The traveling caution was issued in November and will expire this May.

Julie Terrell, a sophomore SMU student, plans to study abroad through the Rhodes College and Sewanee European studies program. On July 7, she will begin a four-week stay in Oxford and continue on to Greece and Italy for eight weeks, returning at the end of October. With war on its way, she expresses anxiety about embarking on her trip.

“I will be scared to be American overseas. I almost feel that my life will be at risk and if something were to go wrong while I was there, I would feel lost without my parents and friends,” she said.

Terrell plans not to go abroad if a war with Iraq does break out soon and the world becomes unsettled.

According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll where 747 adults nationwide were surveyed, 55 percent responded that they would not travel overseas within the next six months. Fifty-one percent of the people questioned stated the reasons for not traveling were due to being afraid, the threat of terrorism etc…

“It just seems as if Americans are a target,’ said Beulah Metzler in a recent New York Times article.

However, the other 43 percent that wouldn’t mind traveling abroad responded optimistically.

“I don’t change my life style because of what’s going on. If you show weakness by changing what you are going to do, the people attacking you win,” John Fortini, a 39-year-old restaurateur said in the New York Times.

This is an opinion that many SMU students who plan to go abroad share.

Britain, Italy and France are in danger of terrorist actions, and many of their citizens oppose war with Iraq. Just this past week an estimated six million people around the world rallied in cities to show their opposition to the possibility of war. The biggest peace marches occurred in cities whose governments have stated their support towards the U.S.’s stance.

In France, a country that speaks most strongly for a peaceful resolution, a rally on Februry 17 of some 400,000 Frenchmen demonstrated their resistance towards the impending war. Placards were carried that read, “No Bush = No War,” written in English as a message to the U.S. Some of the demonstrators included French university students, who might share a classroom with SMU students who are studying abroad.

Caroline Gardner, a sophomore SMU student, will be studying for the 2003-2004 academic year in Paris, France. Gardner, an Art History major and French minor, is excited about the experience. She believes that if a war does break out in the near future, it will be resolved before her departure in August. “You can’t live your life afraid of what will happen next,” she explains. She is, however, somewhat hesitant about the anti-Americanism she might face while in France, but believes her opportunity to study in France is a once in a lifetime experience.

There have been rumors that Iraqi terrorists could attack London’s Underground, a bustling commuter rail. The “tube” is the main source of transportation for students, which many of SMU’s students will use this summer.

In April, the Meadows Wind Ensemble will be traveling to London, to perform by invitation at the Conference of the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles. Dr. Jack Delaney, the conductor of the band, will accompany the ensemble to England to perform. Dr. Delaney is not worried about the dangers they could face, and states, “To be in Western Europe, especially London, is safer than to be in New York or Washington D.C.” Although the possible war doesn’t scare him, he has advised the Meadows students to not wear clothing that advertises America. “We are also recommending the students to not participate in Anti-War or peace protests…we do not want to look like the typical loud American tourist,” explains Dr. Delaney.

With the outrage toward our president, country and government, why would one to be in a country where Americans are not favored? A student could feel unwelcome and become homesick; but the students still go. Part of being abroad is not only learning and immersing yourself in their country and finding out why they are not in favor of war, but in keeping your American identity.

With all the cautions and worries about going abroad in this unstable time, SMU students do believe it is imperative for their travels. Their trip and future experiences in a foreign country outweigh their safety.

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