MSU Monitors Travel Alert

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

Americans abroad are being urged to be cautious after a terror alert is announced for Europe. On Monday, Japan and Sweden joined the U.S. in issued their own travel alerts. While attention is focused on travelers, there are many study abroad students living in those countries including dozens from Michigan State.

Michigan state has just over a hundred students currently studying abroad in europe and for them, it's safety first.

"I found out about it through an e-mail this morning," said MSU sophomore Kara Porter. "I was a bit concerend. I plan on traveling to Europe in the future and I ususally view it as a pretty safe place to be."

MSU notified their students over the weekend about the heightened security risk in europe. But Brett Berquist, the executive director of the study abroad program says the alert should not stop people from traveling.

"This is simply a notice to the U.S. citizens that they should be extra careful right now which is always good advice, even domestically," said Berquist.

Travel alerts and even warnings aren't all that abnormal.

"It does happen with some frequency that countries will have State Department travel warnings. We've reviewed three so far."

But travel warnings are different from travel alerts. Both can stem from volatile conditions such as potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters or even upcoming elections that could be violent. But there are three advisory levels -- with alerts falling in the middle.

"There's a warden message to the local community, an alert which talks about temporary conditions and when the Department feels there is something ongoing or systemic they issue a travel warning," said Berquist.

With the travel alert falling in the mid-level security range many students aren't too concerned and say it really just amounts to using more common sense.

"As long as it stays in the medium range, i'd risk it," said Erika Stender, a junior at MSU. "Unless it was a high level then it would change my plans."

"It made me consider safety but I'll still travel," said Porter.

The travel alert was issued Sunday and extends through January 31, 2011. The State Department recommends anyone who is traveling, should register on their Web site.

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