Studying abroad still safe

Despite rising concerns regarding international travel due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, participation in the university’s study abroad program has not decreased.

Of the 30 students who had not left for abroad before Sept. 11, none have backed out or tried to come home, said Cheryl Lochner-Wright, study abroad coordinator.

How the attacks will impact next year’s abroad program has yet to be seen, Lochner-Wright said. The deadlines for registration are Nov. 1 and 15.

Junior Alisa Murphy is planning on traveling to England Jan. 3 and has no intention of canceling.

“I’m not personally (worried),” Murphy said. “My parents are worried and really concerned about it.”

About 50 parents showed up for the study abroad orientation meeting, Lochner-Wright said. Usually only a handful show up, she said.

“I have been, overall, very impressed with parents,” Lochner-Wright said. “They don’t want their children to live in fear.”

The study abroad fair held earlier this semester had a greater attendance than in recent years, Lochner-Wright said. But the actual impact of the attacks on the program won’t be known until the registration deadline.

Murphy said she still has a few weeks to decide if she wants to back out of the program. Backing out means she will lose about $275, she said.

The U.S. State Department issued several warnings regarding traveling to certain countries, Lochner-Wright said. As a result of this, some universities cancelled programs to middle east countries, but everything else is going as planned.

UW-Eau Claire has not canceled any programs and didn’t have any programs in the Middle East, Lochner-Wright said.

“(The concern is) not new,” she said. “But I think people are paying more attention to it.”

The university is in close contact with students planning on studying abroad and those already there, Lochner-Wright said. For the most part, students say they feel safe where they are, or where they’re going.

A few days after Sept. 11, rumors surfaced that students abroad would be forced to come home, Lochner-Wright said. But many of these students contacted the university demanding that they be allowed to stay.

Sophomore Beth Handler said she has no intention of canceling her trip to Spain this spring.

Her plans to travel outside of Spain changed somewhat, but for the most part she will still tour much of Europe. “I love traveling way too much (to cancel),” she said.

Officials also are in constant contact with liaisons abroad to ensure the students are safe and know what is going on, Lochner-Wright said.

Handler said she plans on staying in Europe until July, well after her program ends.

“You just gotta live your life,” she said. “I’m not going to put myself in a dangerous situation.”