WKU students abroad urged to be cautious

Tessa Duvall

WKU students in Europe have been advised to take caution as they go sight-seeing.

On Oct. 3, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert for Americans in Europe due to potential terrorist attacks.

Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations are continuing to plan attacks, which could target tourist attractions and public transportation, according to the State Department’s website.

Tom Millington, director of Study Abroad and Global Learning, sent an e-mail to WKU students studying in Europe as soon as he heard about the alert on Sunday.

“My response was immediate,” he said. “When something like this happens, you can’t wait.”

In the e-mail, Millington encouraged students to use good judgment when traveling and to let people know where they plan to go.

Although the alert doesn’t prohibit travel, it does mean that common sense and extra caution, he said.

A travel alert is issued to inform Americans about short-term conditions that could pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens, according to the website. Examples include natural disasters, election-related demonstrations and high-profile events.

Travel warnings are more severe and suggest that Americans avoid certain countries because they have been deemed too dangerous or unstable to visit, according to the website. Countries with current travel warnings include Sudan, Pakistan, Haiti and Iraq.

Some students may still take the chance to travel through Europe because they think this could be their only chance to do so, Millington said.

Millington also notified parents of the situation and encouraged them to use the alert to reconnect with their kids if they hadn’t spoken in a while.

Bowling Green sophomore Jessie Parks, who is currently studying at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, said via e-mail she first heard about the alert in an e-mail from her parents.

Parks said at first she was concerned and wondered if she would be told to stop traveling. Then, she did some research on her own and felt assured that everything was being done to handle the situation.

Parks has visited London, Scotland and Ireland. She said the alert won’t alter her plans for the remainder of her time abroad. Places she still plans to go to include Paris, Italy and Spain.

When Parks and her friends plan trips independently, they always check reviews of the area and the hostel to make sure they will feel safe, she said. She also tries to stay aware of her surroundings and use common sense.

“It’s all about being as aware as you can be,” she said.

Millington said he still encourages students who plan to study abroad next semester to do so, but to continue to stay aware of the ongoing alert.