LSA senior Caroline Gu had bought her plane tickets and found a place to live for a study abroad program in South Korea for the fall semester when she decided not to go. The tragedy of Sept. 11 threw Gu and the rest of the United States into a state of confusion and uncertainty, and Gu said she decided she’d better stay.
Other students, including LSA senior Andrew Knepley, were in their host countries when the terrorist attacks occurred. Despite the initial shock, confusion and concern over safety, Knepley said the possibility of returning home early from his program in Florence, Italy, never crossed his mind.
“There was comfort. We had lots of discussions in the villa where the program was. Everybody was together and there was much effort to know, examine and deal with (Sept. 11),” Knepley said.
“There was a lot of sympathy from the Italian people. The mayor of the town came to the villa to express sympathy. It seemed like a warm community,” Knepley added.
Jordan Pollock, assistant director of the Office of International Programs, said Sept. 11 has resulted in an increase in student interest in study abroad programs as reflected in the number of participants for this winter semester.
More than 200 students are studying abroad this winter semester on University programs, 20 more than last year’s 194 participants.
OIP, which sends students to more than 70 countries, has not canceled any of its programs since Sept. 11.
“Students are trying to make sense of what happened in September partly through study abroad,” Pollack said.
He added that many students now realize “that the world cannot be ignored. It’s an interconnected world about which we have to become more sensitive … and (study abroad) is an experience that gives students an opportunity to acquire skills they need to effectively deal with that world.”
LSA academic advisor Leslie Davis advised students who are planning to study abroad to be extra sensitive, especially to any anti-American sentiment.
“Now more than ever, we have to think of ourselves as representatives of our country,” Davis said.