The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) once again claimed responsibility for a deadly terrorist attack — this time in Brussels, Belgium.

On March 22, bombs exploded at the Brussels Airport and the main subway station. A total of 34 people were killed, and 340 were injured. In November 2015, terrorists attacked Paris, killing 129 people — including California State University Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez — and injuring hundreds more.

But even after multiple attacks in Europe in the past six months, Cal Poly students’ interest in studying abroad has not been severely impacted.

The Cal Poly International Center, which is one avenue to study abroad, has been contacted by parents and students with questions about terrorism abroad, according to the center’s director, Caroline Moore. She said students studying abroad are safe.

“The safety of Cal Poly students, faculty and staff abroad is of paramount concern,” Moore said in an email. “We want all to have valuable — and hopefully transformational — educational experiences and to return safe, secure and more savvy global citizens.”

Architecture freshman Marc Hill is still considering going abroad.

“Definitely, safety has come across my mind. Especially since there’s that story now with that one kid who was caught in three attacks,” Hill said. “It’s a concern to me and it’s sad. It’s still not going to stop me, though.”

Cal Poly’s student body and alumni network is not immune to being caught in terrorist attacks. Cal Poly basketball alumnus Chris Eversley lives in Brussels and plays for a professional basketball team there. He was in the city when the bombs went off in the airport and the main subway terminal.

I was at home at the time of the attacks,” Eversley said. “I was just waking up and saw the reports. Then the texts started to pour in from my Belgian friends, and family in America, when they woke up. I live about 10 to 15 minutes from the attacks, so I was definitely on edge.”

Construction management senior Peter Lee was studying abroad in Spain when terrorists hit Paris. Even though he was in a different country, the attacks still had an impact on him.

One of my roommates was in the stadium during the shooting and did not reply to our group messages on WhatsApp until the next day,” Lee said. “So that was pretty nerve-wracking and hit pretty close to home, but, strangely enough, I did not feel that I was in danger.”


The feeling of being safe while studying abroad is still apparent among most students.  More students throughout the United States are choosing to study abroad. 

According to the Institute of International Education, a global nonprofit foreign exchange organization, the number of American students going abroad has increased nearly 10 percent in the past 35 years, reaching almost 1 million students abroad. The Institute of International Education predicts that this trend will likely continue.

Electrical engineering freshman Nick Lampe said he will be part of the rising trend.

“Terrorism would not hinder me from studying abroad,” Lampe said. “I still think it is a great opportunity. Though there is a risk of an attack, it’s not that great of a risk.”

Local crime is more of a risk, Lee said. After going abroad for a quarter, he said he hopes new students will take this advice about safety to all four corners of the globe.

There is no certain way to avoid danger regardless of where you are in the world. So just keep that in mind and be aware of your surroundings, but do not let fear deter you from immersing yourself into the culture around you,” Lee said. “Be street-smart and use common sense.”

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