Many face skepticism of visiting Paris after the Jan. 7 attack of French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and following events.
Once viewed as elegant and charming, Paris, France has faced frightening media coverage since the early January attacks at Charlie Hebdo, the shooting of a policewoman and the hostage situation at a kosher supermarket in the city.
Although some question whether studying in Paris will be safe, former students of USM’s study abroad program, The Abbey Program, feel confident in their peers traveling to the city.
“I loved every second of being in France. I felt like I learned so much faster because the professors pushed us to work harder. The weirdest little moments stick in my head, like getting lost and asking a police officer how to find the museum,” Kristen Barkman, a senior communications major at The University of Southern Mississippi, said.
“I don’t think students are in danger unless they run some sort of organization that looks negatively on extreme religious factions. Personally, I never felt as if I were in danger. In fact, I felt safer in France than I have in most American cities,” Barkman said.
Natives of France also feel that Paris could be considered one of the safest places in Europe.
Former USM student Colas Levaufre currently attends graduate school at Université de Caen Basse-Normandie in Caen, France. He feels that students should not fear terrorism in Paris because Charlie Hebdo was a target for terrorists.
“Honestly, Paris is a safe place and the Charlie Hebdo shooting could have happened in any big city in the world. I am sad about what happened, but I don’t feel threatened,” Levaufre said.
“I think you are asking me these questions because of what Fox News said. There information was totally wrong. There are no ‘no-go zones.’”
Citlali Dèverge, a criminal justice graduate student at Southern Miss and a native of Orléans, France said, “I used to visit Paris every now and then with my family or friends for the weekends. Paris is a safe place. The response of those extremist individuals was very radical, but it does not portray the feelings of the entire Muslim population in France.”
“I feel that USM students should feel safe studying or traveling to Paris after the Charlie Hebdo incidents because our government is managing the situation in the best possible way, taking at heart the interests and values of the republic, thus preventing further attempts of attacks in order for all of us to be safe. Because as we say, ‘mieux vaut prévenir que guérir’ – it is just for safety,” Dèverge said.