Although fears of international terrorism and reduced airline safety are keeping many tourists and businesspeople out of the skies and holding them reclusive in their homelands, UM students feel little or no apprehension about traveling abroad next semester, and studying in a foreign university.
At pre-departure orientation sessions last Wednesday and Thursday, Study Abroad directors instructed prospective travelers in the financial matters, deadlines, health precautions, and safety issues connected with international travel. Students were educated on how to facilitate issues corresponding with departure, residence, and return.
During the meeting, employees from the International Education and Exchange Programs Office discussed the importance of blending in, of looking natural while in a foreign country—basically, not looking American.
An article titled “Yes, I’m American. How Did You Guess” was handed out. The most informative line: “To the skittish tourist: Nikes and fanny packs are a giveaway”.
Lecturers also stressed the necessity of dressing, speaking, eating and gesturing like the natives.
They urged students to understand the nuances of the new worlds they will be living in, and taught them how to assimilate the neccessary traits.
Officials were prepared to pacify students’ anxieties concerning international tension, but a lack of worry surprised everyone.
“I just wanted a break from Miami,” said Andrew, a student traveling to Australia.
When asked if he was apprehensive about living across the world for four months, he calmly replied, “I’m a little bit worried, but I’m more worried about going to New York for Thanksgiving, than anything else.”
Alex, traveling to Switzerland, declared he has “no concern whatsoever” for the media’s over-dramatization of foreign tension.
“A lot of people brought it up, but it never really bothered me much at all.”
Another Australia-bound student, Brooke, broke the silence.
“My parents were petrified! But they’ve been prepared for a while,” she acknowledged.
“They were a little scared before [September 11th], but now . . . they’re not scared about flying, they’re just scared about the other people.”
All the students were in consensus that their fears for their own safety in another country were barely affected by terrorist activities.
“My only concern would be about what would happen over here,” added Michelle, soon to be studying in a university in Switzerland, suggesting her uneasiness with leaving her family and friends behind in a land she feels may not be safe for them.
A general murmur of agreement in the room signified a common theme: their worries lie within the well-being of the ones they love, right at home in the US.