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Student recounts attack while studying abroad
Quinnipiac students were studying abroad in London at the time of the attack on Wednesday, March 22, among them was sophomore psychology major Kassandra Mendes.
On March 22, 52-year-old British man, Khalid Massod, struck pedestrians who were walking on the pavement on the south side of Westminster Bridge in London, England.
Massod abandoned his vehicle after crashing it into a fence. He proceeded to run inside the gates of Parliament, where he stabbed an unarmed police officer and killed him. Police officers shot Massod, who died of his injuries on the scene. The entire attack lasted about 82 seconds, according to BBC News.
Mendes contacted her immediate family as soon as she had gotten word of the attack.
“At first, I didn’t think much of the situation, since so little information was known when the first news alert went out,” Mendes said. “I originally heard a police officer was stabbed and the assailant was shot, but it quickly unfolded into what we now know happened. I made sure to post on social media that I was okay to let the rest of my family and friends know that I was okay.”
Quinnipiac has program providers and partners overseas who immediately notify the university if there are incidents or events happen in the country, Associate Director of study abroad, Mark Tortora.
“At the same time that they notify us, they’re also reaching out to make sure there is an accountability for all of the students,” Tortora said. “Quinnipiac is also reaching out and emailing the students to make sure that they are checking in to see if there is any support that we can provide them, and so forth.”
The university emailed all of the students who were abroad in the London at the time of the attack, asking for a response as soon as possible with their location when the attack occurred, according to Mendes. The university quickly reported that all of the students were safe after the incident.
The dorm room in which Mendes is staying is located close to the Parliament building, at the time of the attack.
After she had gotten word of the incident occurring not far from her location, Mendes decided it was best to stay in for the night.
Students have a lot to take into consideration when deciding to study abroad, according to Tortora.
“I think that of course if there is anything that a student might hesitate to participate in the study abroad experience terrorism is a big thing,” Tortora said. “I think that students will think twice about participating and living abroad, and what that means, or reconsider different locations that they are more comfortable with.”
The experience of studying abroad, as well as living in a different country, is not one that should be passed up because of horrible acts that a small group of people take part in, according to Mendes.
“To any student thinking about studying abroad, do not let something like this hold you back from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Mendes said. “ Studying abroad gives you the most amazing four to five months of your life. If you are thinking about it, just go for it.”