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The Daily Tar Heel

Students Still Plan to Study Abroad

Bob Miles, director of the Study Abroad Office, said there is no firm evidence that the attacks of Sept. 11 have negatively influenced students' desires to travel internationally.

But he said the applicants have not reached a final point of commitment, so the office will not know of any substantial impact until late October.

"If students were concerned about studying abroad, we would want to explore what their concerns were to determine whether or not their worries were well-founded," Miles said. "We would also offer sound information and advice to help them make their own decision."

Miles said no one has expressed concern or canceled an application. The number of students applying to go abroad next spring is 100 more than applied last fall for Spring 2001.

Students have until late October to cancel their applications without facing a financial penalty. But if they withdraw after the deadline, students might lose the deposit they already have paid.

Miles said if the State Department Advisory recommends that a program be canceled due to safety concerns, the Study Abroad Office will do its best to obtain a full refund for the applicant. But if students decide to withdraw from programs using their own judgement the office would not necessarily seek a reimbursement.

Tiffany Felde, manager of STA Travel on Franklin Street, the company that generally provides plane tickets for study abroad students, said some students have called with concerns about flight safety. But Felde said there have not been any refunds for study abroad plane tickets.

She said all recent refunds have been for domestic travel in the days after the Sept. 11 attack. STA's policy is that all tickets are refundable minus $100. But in light of recent events, STA has waived all cancellation fees for travel dates between Sept. 11 and Sept. 30.

If the world situation worsens, officials said new policies and precautions might apply. Miles said if an attack is targeted on Afghanistan, the office will seek advice from the State Department concerning the security of students abroad. "We don't have any students in Afghanistan at the present time, however, so no students would be immediately affected if an attack occurs," Miles said.

Margaret Weimer, associate professor of political science, said she does not believe students abroad are in any immediate danger. But she said it would become unsafe in some areas if the United States takes action against Afghanistan. "Muslims will see (bombing Afghanistan) as an attack on Islam," she said. She said that could put students in other Muslim countries in danger.

Miles said the Study Abroad Office is actively involved in the security of students abroad, offering important information concerning safety measures students need take while in another country.

"I always advise students to register with the American embassy when they arrive in a new country," Miles said. "The support students receive while abroad is professional and of high quality."

Study Abroad Office staff keep up with all current events in the world, Miles said. "We follow constant monitoring to determine whether any of our programs are being threatened in any way," Miles said.

As of now, Miles said he is unaware of any such problems because most students are in Europe.

He also said Study Abroad's Sea Semester would be unaffected because the route takes students into the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, far from the controversy in the Middle East.

But the Semester at Sea program, which several UNC students participate in although it is not officially connected to the Study Abroad office, has been directly affected. According to the Semester at Sea Web site, the current voyage has diverted from its originally scheduled itinerary. The ship will now follow a southern route to Africa and South America.

Richard Kohn, chairman of the curriculum in peace, war and defense, said students should not be discouraged from studying abroad and that it could even be more enriching after the terrorist attacks. "It is even more important now for students to travel and study abroad."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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