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Study abroad students prepare for Australia departure

BY GRACE PATERAS | DECEMBER 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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After a hostage scare in Sydney, Australia, earlier this week, University of Iowa International Programs officials say the one student studying abroad in the city remains safe.

“When the event unfolded, we reached out to make sure she was safe,” said Doug Lee, a UI assistant provost for International Programs. “She responded right away that she was at home watching, like most others in Australia were, as things unfolded on TV.”

Lee said the student did not express any safety concerns.

The student was the only UI student in the country during the event; three others who had studied in Australia had already completed their programs and gone home.

Autumn Tallman, an associate director of Study Abroad, said all students go through a pre-departure training online course before they leave to study abroad.

The course covers health, safety, and security topics that are relevant to all destinations, she said.

“Students are asked to approach international travel with a realistic understanding that, yes, there are some risks in all locations,” she said. “The key is identifying what exactly the known risks are for a particular location by consulting reliable sources and then using that information to make decisions about travel plans and to reduce exposure to known risks while you are abroad.”

When an alarming occurrence takes place, UI officials keep a close eye on the students in the area.

“If an unexpected event takes place like the hostage situation that recently unfolded in Sydney, we check on the well-being of students in that location and share notifications and recommendations from the U.S. Department of State,” Tallman said.

Next semester, 23 UI students will study in Australia; only three will travel to Sydney.

Junior Andrew Broderick will study in Newcastle, which is approximately two hours north of where the incident took place in Sydney. However, he said he is not worried about a similar incident taking place while he is abroad.

“I feel like there is stuff like that every day in the U.S., and it’s really just luck of the draw,” he said. “Going into the Study Abroad Program, I know there are risks … [the hostage situation] is scary, but it doesn't really affect me.”

Being from the small town of Baxter, Iowa, Broderick said he is looking forward to traveling instead of fearing unfavorable situations.

“Besides meeting new people, I’m looking forward to being on the opposite end of the world and seeing what the world has to offer,” he said.


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