Yes, this is in response to terrible things happening around the world and getting ever closer to where I live. This is me wanting to talk to you about this topic that is on everyone’s minds. A topic that is deeply personal for some, and a world away for others. Some of this is hard to write, and maybe even read. I’m not going to cite stats, but express my opinion, emotions, and life experiences.
… “Is traveling safe?”
I lived in a fairly small town where you felt pretty safe but still knew there were bad parts you didn’t walk through. It’s a town roughly an hour from Washington, D.C.–a place that’s quite important to the world in general, much like New York, Brussels, London, etc.
In high school, it was normal to have bomb threats that nobody took seriously except the school and the police. We just hoped it wasn’t on a super cold or super hot day since we had to stand outside while they swept the school. Being located near a K-9 training facility, this made this a pretty quick process.
The day my world shook and I was really introduced to violence was on 9/11. Just like many others, I’ll never forget that day. That high school history class became something very different in that moment. The news was on, the teacher would turn down the volume in an attempt to have class, then the second plane hit, so he turned it up. A bit later he turned it back down, then the news of the plane hitting the Pentagon came in. He left it on.
It’s crazy how that moment, that moment the plane hit the Pentagon, it was personal. Many of my classmates parents worked in D.C….and some in that building (which is in Virginia–my state). My state was hit. My friends parents are at risk of being dead. While I’m grateful that wasn’t the case. It made us realize what being affected by something horrible felt like.
Confusion- “It’s a movie…why are we watching a movie in class today?”
Denial- “That didn’t just happen. That’s just not possible, right?”
Overwhelming emotions- “How can this be? All those people! Why???”
Numbness- “It’s too much and I can’t bear it”
I flew right before 9/11 and about 5 months later, both internationally. They were very different experiences. It was annoying! Why do I have to take my shoes off? I can’t take the nail file? For real? It’s the norm now and we plan for it.
Safe in Europe?
Once we started traveling in college, I never thought about violence. I don’t remember anything happening in recent memory.
But shortly after our return from London, the bomb in the Underground devastated the area. London is iconic. It’s hard to stay away. There’s business, pleasure, curiosity, conferences…
I always thought that part of Europe was a pretty safe area, so it confused me.
The bombings (Oklahoma City, Boston), school shootings, beltway snipers, serial killers, gang violence, military base shootings, etc. It’s all happened in the States in my lifetime.
We went to Paris last year, and since then they’ve had the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the shooting throughout Paris. On a train to Paris from Amsterdam, a few heroic men stopped an attack before it happened. ON A TRAIN I COULD HAVE BEEN ON.
Standing up for my life
Guess what? I’m going on that train next month. I’m more observant and quicker to listen to my intuition. But I’m not going to let feel rule me.
Travel is so important for learning and for expanding your mind. I believe travel makes me a better person. It inspires and encourages. It rewards me with awesome people, delicious food, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
I felt like Brussels knew something could happen after Paris. People from violent groups are traveling within the EU freely and Brussels was talked about. One was even stopped in Germany and questioned. One more off the street! But is there really anyway you can prepare? They are working on intelligence and I hope it gets better, but there is not possible way to prepare for every scenerio.
The Netherlands is currently the President of the European Union and is holding meetings in Amsterdam. That’s a concern. I don’t know how often they are in session, but I feel like it brings political attention to a place that doesn’t get too political.
Death and violence can happen anywhere at any time for any reason. It doesn’t have to be terrorism or even a planned incident. It could be a car accident. Apparently quite a few people even die because of cows. Or in Amsterdam, some men drink too much, try to urinate in the canal, and drown.
Bad things happen, I’m not dismissing it, but stating a fact. Throughout history there has always been violence. Should we want it stopped? Of course! But don’t let it stop you from living your life. Know that most people in the world are good and are not trying to hurt you.
Nothing is perfectly safe, but be as safe as possible by listening to officials, planning ahead, and being smart.
Live life to the fullest to get the most out of it!