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MU students abroad vigilant in face of travel advisory

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | 11:59 a.m. CDT; updated 8:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 6, 2010

COLUMBIA — The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory Sunday for U.S. citizens in Europe, but it's business as usual for Columbia.

According to the State Department, "current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks," and the U.S. Government advises people to register with the U.S. Consulate wherever they travel in Europe.

The State Department's advisory is the first such action taken this year for a specific continent, but makes clear that it is not a travel ban, merely advice to remain vigilant.

Barbara Lindeman, director of MU Study Abroad, said that "the safety and security of our students is our No. 1 priority. We are always vigilant and always monitoring all State Department communications."

The MU Study Abroad office sent an e-mail to all of its students in Europe, reminding them to exercise caution. The e-mail told students, though, that the advisory is not a recommendation against travel in Europe.

"There was nothing in the State Department's travel advisory that our guidelines didn't already cover," Lindeman said. "I think this is a reminder to exercise good judgment and be aware of your surroundings."

Jerry Price, office manager of Suzi Davis Travel in Columbia, didn't anticipate people will change their travel plans to Europe.

"Advisories of this nature have been through our experience before," he said.

Columbia travel agency Great Southern Travel is advising their tourists to "be watchful, still travel and be as safe as possible."

"European governments usually keep main tourist areas safe," said Lisa Bright, office manager for Great Southern Travel. "They know tourist areas are a big part of their economy, and they watch out for those areas as much as possible."

Bright did not think the advisory will harm Great Southern Travel.

"We just deal with it," Bright said. "This is a new age after 2001. People are getting used to these advisories."

MU strategic communications junior Kaleigh Glaza, now in London, said she "doesn't feel unsafe at all, but I do think it's important to be aware that these travel warnings are out there."

The Study Abroad office has been "great", she said, even flying out a representative to assuage student fears.

"Europe, like America, deals with threats like these," she said. "And, if anything, the openness and communication we have received has been nice."


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