On Paris, Studying Abroad, and Not Letting Fear Win

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Yesterday I stood in front of a classroom full of first year students, who all were a part of the nursing program at one of our campuses, and I told them about the wonders of studying abroad. I told them how the way they saw the world would grow and change, and about how it would make them better health care practitioners, to be able to understand the feeling of not understanding a language that is being spoken to you. I also had to tell them about the dangers of the world, as the tragedy that occurred in Paris was still so fresh in everyone’s mind.

I wanted to remember what I said to them, and to share it with you all, so I’ve summarized it as much as I can below.

The world, unfortunately, is a dangerous place. What happened in Paris was an act of terror. It was meant to scare you, to make you think twice about both the city and whether or not the world is safe. The world is not safe, but being abroad, traveling to a new country, a new city, will not make you any less or any more safe. Simply leaving your house each morning means that you are risking your life. If you decide to stay in your bubble and not study abroad or visit the beautiful city of Paris because of the events from last Friday, then the terrorists have succeeded.  It is up to all of us to not let them succeed. Paris is a city full of culture, art and passion. Do not let anything stop you from seeing it with your own eyes, if you so desire to. Tonight, the Parisians are taking back the cafes and bars, the outdoor tables, the time with friends and family that ISIL/ISIS tried to take from them. They will not let terror win, and I hope that you don’t either.

I’m going to Paris in the summer, and after these attacks, multiple people asked me if I was going to cancel my trip. I always smiled and shook my head, and then explained to them no, I was not, because Paris is still magical, and I will never let fear stop me from following my dreams. Paris was one of the first places outside of England I had ever visited, back when I was about 12, and I have gone back many times. It always will be a place that is special to me, and eating at cafes and strolling through the city, being a flâneur, is my favourite way to spend a day.

Note: I struggled a lot about whether to post this, as I never want to appear insensitive to the terror that took place. In the end though, I felt this was something I needed to say, and as a writer and a blogger, ultimately this is my space to document what happens in my life, and what happened in Paris affected me both personally and professionally.  

4 thoughts on “On Paris, Studying Abroad, and Not Letting Fear Win

  1. Kaitlyn Burke says:

    Very beautifully written! I know after our discussion on the phone how much it mattered to you to be sensitive on the topic at hand but the fact that it meant so much to you to say something was enough. This is a wonderful post and I hope it encourages others to not let fear keep them from seeing the world. They’d be missing out on an incredible experience.

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