Students who have chosen to study abroad in France this semester are facing a unique situation.
Jennifer Kozuch is a sophomore studying clinical laboratory science and French at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is one of 10 students from the UW System who is studying abroad at the University of Caen this semester.
Kozuch was in Chicago on Jan. 7, which was the day of the first terrorist attack in Paris at the satirical magazine office of Charlie Hebdo.
17 people were killed over three days with one attack ending in a standoff after a gunman took hostages in a Paris supermarket. Upon her arrival in Paris, she noticed increased security.
Kozuch said after the attacks, France activated the country’s nationwide security system, Vigipirate.
“You can think of Vigipirate as being vigilant,” Kozuch said. “It’s important to stay vigilant and be cautious, especially during these times with the attacks. So, with Vigipirate, we would see signs around that say that, and there would be increased security at the most treasured museums and monuments.”
For Kozuch and other UWSP students, the march on Jan. 11 in defiance of the attacks was the one event that changed the students’ plans. The students were unable to make it to a scheduled theatre performance.
Instead, they decided to join the march.
“It was incredible to see the unity of the French and how they came together to stand up for their rights and for their country,” Kozuch said. “It was a very peaceful march, with a feeling of solidarity. There were several leaders from various countries who came out to support the cause as well.”
She believes the recent attack in France has resulted in a time of mourning for the country.
“17 people in all were murdered,” Kosuch said. “That is definitely something to mourn about. So, even though life still goes on and people went about their daily lives, it’s important to note that they are indeed mourning these deaths by paying respect with the march and the ‘Je suis Charlie’ signs.”
Despite the recent tragedy in France, Kozuch has been enjoying herself. She is living with a host family and is excited to learn about French culture.
“I have learned so much in a short period of time and it has been an incredible experience,” Kozuch said. “I have enjoyed how diverse my classes are with other students from around the world. I feel like I can learn a lot from them.”