I did not think leaving my parents at the Newark, New Jersey airport on a dreary January morning would be the hardest part of my abroad experience. I did not think the anticipation on the plane ride from the east coast over to Ireland would be the scariest feeling.
Truth be told, what I expected was to feel unsafe walking alone in a new city. I expected to feel a wave of panic any time I got in a taxi alone or made a wrong turn down some unknown street. But I have not felt fearful, despite doing all of these things.
That first week, every time a kind, old Irish man warned my friends and me about the "bad" parts of Dublin, I winced. I waited to feel the sense of fear I felt in the Philadelphia or New York City train stations. I waited to be catcalled. I waited to hear about the latest shooting, gangbang, or overdose. But it has been months, and I have never encountered any of these.
I'm not saying that these things do not happen here. Unfortunately, no place in the world is a utopia. These things do happen all around the world, as sad as it is. But the amount that they happen at home, compared to the amount that they happen here, abroad, do not compare in the slightest. At home, every other news report seems to be about a memorial for the latest shooting victims. Every other news report is about a college student who went to a party and was drugged.
I did not realize just how often these things were happening until I was away from them for a while.
I feel safer abroad than I've ever felt before, and I think that's a problem.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could all feel safe? No matter where we are in the world? Why are some countries ahead in so many ways, yet so behind in other ways?
It's time to get to the bottom of this.