In light of the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kenya, and other beautiful places around the world, I pushed the thought of studying abroad next fall to the back of my mind. Heightened threats have begun to plague airports, delay flights, and require the presence of the FBI and the bomb squad. Malls do not spread the same holiday spirit as they did last year. Increased security in targeted major cities, although necessary, is creating the unsettling feeling that disaster is imminent and life may change at any instant.
I have never feared flying. I have flown over the Atlantic and around the United States but I have never feared my life ending up in the air at the hands of those who wish pain on innocent lives. I was just a little kid when 9/11 took place and until quite recently, never felt the effect that terrorism really does have. I’ve been to Paris. I’ve stood on the Champs Elysees, eaten in its restaurants, traveled down the Seine, and met its people. I’ve learned the French language and studied France’s culture and history. I’ve dreamed of the day that I would get to go back and experience different avenues of its beauty and magic.
Once the attacks happened, fear took hold of my plans. I worried to venture that far from home. I worried that by traveling overseas and by closing the gap that the Atlantic Ocean creates between the United States and the brute of terrorism, I would put myself in greater danger. I feared the idea of traveling around Europe, attending festivals and large events like the concert in Paris that claimed the lives of over 80 people. I was anxious over flying there and flying home. Before this, I had never feared unknowns like these. I never feared terrorism stomping out my love of travel and exploration.
I came across a quote not too long ago that reads “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” (Mary Anne Radmacher). It's true. I am not the same after experiencing other worlds and other cultures. And I’ll probably never be the same again. If I stay in the same place for the rest of my life, I will never know adventure. I will never understand the world I wish to write about. Instead of living in fear, I will be living in regret and I’m not quite sure which is worse. So, despite my worries and my uncertainty, I am still going to study abroad.
I did not know anyone affected by the attacks. But I want to. I want to share their stories and understand what is happening on the other side of the world. If I stay here, I will never have that chance. I refuse to allow fear to dictate my life. Anxiety over things I’ve never even experienced will not keep me stationary. Instead, it will inspire my movement and form the basis for this career I want to pursue. Terrorism wins if we let it rule the course of our lives. I will not surrender my wanderlust to those who desire terror. You shouldn’t, either.