Editorial: Don't let terrorism deter you from studying abroad

Much of the nation woke up to the terrible news of bombings in Brussels on Tuesday. With 57 students and faculty members of the University abroad, a large portion of our campus community was concerned with the safety of friends, families and fellow students.

Thankfully, those connected with our University were quickly confirmed safe by the Office of International Safety and Security; however, the wake of the attacks at Brussels Airport and the city’s subway system has likely left students and their families questioning the safety of studying abroad.

But students should not hesitate to travel the world because of terrorism. Giving into this fear, and forfeiting a potentially life-changing opportunity, is antithetical to the very spirit of the college experience.

Cliche though it may be, college is intended to be a time for exploration of both the outer reaches of one’s own mind and the physical world. Safety is of paramount importance, but terrorism is not reliably predictable enough to justify avoiding certain countries or continents.

One former employee of The Daily Illini, Emma Goodwin, a junior in LAS and opinions editor in 2015, is one of the University students in Belgium and was traveling back into Brussels on the day of the incidents.

“While the attacks have made me more hypervigilant and aware of my surroundings, it hasn’t changed anything for me,” Goodwin said. “I’m still traveling, I’m still enjoying life in Belgium and Brussels and I’m still making the most of this experience. The fear (of traveling abroad) is rational, clearly, but that doesn’t mean we should be accepting of it.”

One inherent objective of terrorism is to strike fear into victims and those around them. But another objective is to call attention to a problem, be it societal or political or religious.

The methods are unforgivable, but one way to lessen the number of conflicts that spiral into these actions is to increase our generation’s awareness of global issues — most efficiently done by studying abroad.

“There is a whole lot more beauty and love in this world than there is hatred, and if you want to experience that firsthand, study abroad,” said MaryCate Most, a junior in Media and former assistant news editor at The Daily Illini, who studied abroad in Belgium last year. “The only way to restore peace, in Belgium or in any country around the world, is to face your fears with compassion and fight against inequality.”