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Don’t Try to Scare Me Out of Going Abroad

 

When I tell people about how I’m going abroad to Israel next semester, people are usually right away really excited for me. Nightlife! Museums! Beautiful weather! Beaches! Cute Israeli boys! History! Hiking! FALAFEL!!!!! And I smile because those are some of the reasons I chose to go to Israel, among so many others. Then, about a minute into this discussion, the conversation usually shifts, and it goes like this: a thoughtful head tilt, and a quiet question: Aren’t you afraid?

I know what they want me to say — something like: If the situation is really bad, I won’t go. Or: The campus where I’m living has great security, so I know I’ll feel really safe. Sometimes I say one of those things, and I do believe them, because they’re true. But I am not afraid. Not because I’m 100% positive that nothing will happen to me, because I’m not — but because there is no point in being afraid.

On November 13, there were terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad. Hundreds of people in these three cities were brutally killed by ISIS and other collaborative extremist groups. It was heartbreaking and senseless and the whole world mourns the loss of these innocent souls.

It was also a political wake-up call that told particularly major Western cities that terrorism does not discriminate by hemisphere, that anything could happen anywhere. Nowhere is safe: it’s a message depressing and terrifying enough to make me never want to leave my house again.

But if I never leave my house again, the terrorists win.

If we, as a global community, have learned anything in the past few days, it’s that unfortunately, evil doesn’t discriminate, and no place on earth is completely safe. It’s so bleak and dystopian to even think like that, but it feels true, especially in the wake of these horrible attacks.

In order to move forward, we must do just that: move forward. Terrorism exists to instill fear in its victims and its potential victims. If we allow fear to stop us from continuing with our lives, from moving forward with plans we have made, from traveling and experiencing all we can in this beautiful world, only then does terror succeed.

We cannot allow the looming threat of terrorism stop us from living our fullest lives.

We cannot live afraid of danger and tragedy — we can only continue living, be cautious, and pray for the best.

So please, please, please don’t try to scare me or anyone else out of studying abroad. Chances are we’ve had long talks with our parents, friends, and advisors, weighed the pros and cons, and made an educated decision — risks and benefits all accounted for. I’m still going because to change my plans would be to allow terrorism to succeed. The world sometimes feels like a terrible place, but the most terrible thing of all would be to live in fear.

 
Alex Weiner is a senior at the University of Michigan who loves typography, social media, dogs, and strong coffee. She divides her time (and love) between Miami, FL, where she was born and raised, and Ann Arbor, MI, where she is currently pretending that the cold doesn't bother her at all.
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