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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Knox case refocuses safety abroad


In light of a retrial of a murder charge involving a student studying abroad, the International Education Director of the University of Mary Washington has given students advice in order to improve their experiences studying abroad.

While studying abroad in Italy in 2007, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend at the time were charged with the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. However, the charges were overturned and Knox was released due to a lack of evidence. Now, six years later, the Italian Supreme Court has called for Knox to stand trial again for the crime.

While this is not a typical experience for those who choose to study abroad, the case nonetheless raises some questions of safety while travelling. The Director of International Education for the University of Mary Washington, Jose Sainz, offers some advice for anyone who may have concerns while abroad.

Sainz, who has been director for two years, said that, in his experience, there have been no serious incidents besides petty theft and pick-pocketing. However, following some simple tips could prevent such situations from occurring, according to Sainz.

First, students should always be aware of their surroundings. Students should get to know the area that they will be residing in, including the parts that should be avoided. If a student feels uneasy at any point, they should not hesitate to ask for help. Students should use common sense and not put themselves in situations where they could be in danger.

Prior to departure, all students are thoroughly prepped by the faculty of the Center for International Education as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensure that they are equipped with the best possible knowledge for a fun and safe experience.

Morgan Downing, a student who studied abroad at the University of Westminster in London for six weeks, also offered her own experience to calm any fears of danger in travelling.

While in London, she had the opportunity to go to Wimbledon, attend the European premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” and watch the athletes prepare for the Olympics.

Downing does not believe students should worry about the Amanda Knox case when considering their own travels because the case has gotten so much media attention because it’s such a rare occurrence.

“I wouldn’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from trying what will probably be an amazing experience,” said Downing. “That’s the fun in adventure anyway.”