Although there were no UA students studying abroad in Paris, there were at least two students visiting the city during the series of attacks that killed 129 people Friday.
One UA student, Riley Etheridge, was in Paris visiting friends during the attacks.
“We were on our way back to our Airbnb, which was about a mile away from the Bataclan, when the attacks started,” Etheridge said. “We heard sirens on the walk back but didn’t think anything of it because you hear sirens quite often around big cities.”
Once getting back to their apartment and connecting to Wi-Fi, Etheridge said her mom started calling through Facebook on her friend’s phone and asking if she was OK.
Afterward, Etheridge and her friend began watching a live news stream in English to find out what was happening.
“It was hectic,” Etheridge said. “We contacted the U.S. Embassy, and we were told to stay indoors. We stayed up until 5 in the morning just watching news.”
The next day, the entire city was shut down, Etheridge said.
“We tried to do some sightseeing, but mostly everything was closed,” Etheridge said. “We felt very safe walking around. There were military officers, security and police everywhere we went.”
Despite the closing of the French borders, Etheridge said she did not have any trouble leaving the country.
Etheridge said she was concerned about being able to return to the country where she is studying abroad, but her flight was on time.
Four UA students were in France at the time of the attacks, said DeDe Long, director of the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange.
Once word of the attacks reached the United States, the Study Abroad office immediately began contacting all students studying abroad in France to inquire about their location and well-being.
“We received word about the attacks right after our office closed,” Long said. “Right when we found out what was happening, our risk manager went into the database to contact the students studying in France.”
There were some students traveling through Paris to Lille, France, for a business workshop, but they were not in Paris during the attacks, Long said. Employees sent emails to the students to check on them.
Kevin Labille, a French student studying at the UofA, was told by a friend in France about the attacks.
“I was unsure of what was going on, so when I got home, I Googled it,” Labille said. “I started watching news from a French channel with some other French students.”
While he does not have plans to return to France anytime soon, he would feel unsafe if he did, Labille said.
“I feel more safe in Arkansas than I do in my own country,” Labille said.
Despite negative connotations with Syrian refugees coming to America, Labille said he believes the government should allow amnesty.
“These are innocent people trying to get out because of the war, but because of these attacks, the world is turning their back to them,” Labille said.
As France drops bombs in Syria, Labille said he fears the outcome.
“They attacked, now we attacked,” Labille said. “I don’t know what’s next, but I know innocent people will be killed for no reason.”
The only thing people can do is try to stay strong, Labille said.
“The whole point of these attacks was to scare people,” Labille said. “If we do not stay strong, they will win.”