isArt by Sybil Zhang
Pepperdine prides itself on incredible International Programs, and many students consider it the highlight of their academic careers. But with terrorist attacks like the one in Parsons Green Tube station in London on Sept. 15, there is mounting concern over student safety while abroad. These kind of events are a reality and students should prepare themselves for that fact before leaving home. However, they should not let fear keep them from experiencing the world and everything that a semester or two in another country can offer.
While it is impossible to predict or control every possible situation that could take place, IP has taken a lot of measures to ensure the greatest possible safety for its students.
Upon registering for an international program, all students are required to create an account with International SOS, “the world’s leading medical and travel security assistance company.” Before taking any trips students must log their travel info, including transportation and accommodation through this account.
International SOS is then able to keep track of where a student is at any given time in the case of an emergency. International SOS can also provide assistance should a traveler have their wallet stolen or need medical help.
This incredibly useful tool makes it possible to check in with every single student just moments after an attack and provide immediate information about what happened, where and how to remain safe. The most important thing for students to know is that this system works best when they take the time to always log their trips with as much information as possible.
Students should also heed the advice of the IP Office and the US government and not travel to unsafe locations. The international travel safety section on Wavenet and Pepperdine’s international travel page are both excellent resources for information on this subject. Students can also follow the travel warning list issued by the US government.
Although it may weigh heavily on the mind, the threat of terrorism should not discourage students from traveling. Part of the terrorist agenda is to make it seem like they are everywhere, when in fact their reach is quite limited.
“There is no reason, none whatsoever, to believe that ISIS and other terrorist groups are holding back,” writes risk analyst Tom Pollock in his article “Do you feel like you’re more likely than ever to be hit by a terror attack? This is why you’re wrong” published July 16, 2016 by the Independent. “They are killing this many of us precisely because this is as many of us as they can kill. And the reason for that is straightforward: There aren’t very many of them.”
ISIS and other groups are not nearly as big of a threat as they make themselves out to be. The chances of being involved in a terrorist attack are extremely slim, with some statistics stating that being struck by lightning or winning the lottery are more likely.
“There’s always a chance of something bad happening anywhere in the world, even in the states,” junior Diana Kim said. “That shouldn’t stop you from traveling and experiencing new adventures.”
The best way to ensure safety while abroad is to be smart and aware. People should trust their gut instincts and get out of any situation that doesn’t feel right. Staying off of one’s phone, being sober and being aware of one’s surroundings when out in public will make it easier to notice potential threats.
It’s a good idea to travel in groups, never wander off alone and always have established meeting points. It also pays to do some research and know the culture and current events of the place one is traveling to, as well as any celebrations, holidays or political protests that might be occurring during the visit.
Additionally, students should have a plan for what they will do in an emergency situation. DPS’s Active Shooter Safety Video is an excellent place to start. It may be unsettling to think through those scenarios, but people who have been educated in what to do in an emergency situation and who have a plan of action are far less likely to panic and more likely to get out safely than those who don’t.
Studying abroad can be an extremely rewarding experience and there are many factors to consider when making the decision to leave home, but for the prepared student fear should not be one of them.
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