VCU study abroad programs continue despite Europe travel warning

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — For many college students, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience.

Recent Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Angie Shaw, who studied abroad in Amsterdam in 2014, said in a recent interview that she benefited greatly from her time spent learning in a foreign environment.

“It made me grow professionally, personally and academically. It broadened my worldview,” she told 8News.

But Shaw said a recent warning from the U.S. Department of State makes her hesitant to leave the country again.

Shaw“They’ve hit Brussels, Paris and London. Amsterdam might be next,” she said.

Tuesday’s warning comes despite there being no new, specific threat. Officials say there will be several well attended events happening across Europe this summer, all of which have potential terrorist threats.

U.S. Department of State spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that the recent warning was a renewal of a risk assessment that gets updated twice a year.

“It would have come anyway, but we took the opportunity since it’s the beginning of summer to make… our concerns known about the potential risk of terrorists attacks throughout Europe. Particularly when you’ve got the Tour de France starting up,” he said. “So, it was a good opportunity to put all of this into perspective.”

With students in France, the United Kingdom, Italy and other locations, VCU Study Abroad director Stephanie Tignor said the department is putting safety first.

“We don’t hesitate to cancel programs if there’s a need to do so,” Tignor said.

For now, all European summer programs will continue as planned. VCU students studying abroad are registered through the State Department online, giving them access to travel warnings and other safety information.

VCU representative

“We also train our faculty who lead the programs so they’re aware of how to handle an emergency situation,” Tignor said.

While Shaw agreed it’s important to use caution, she pointed out that international travel always comes with some degree of risk.

“If you live in fear and you let it control your thoughts and actions, it’s only letting the people who oppress you win,” she said.

The alert expires August 31st.

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