Prayers for Brussels

By now, everyone is aware of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium. If you’re unaware, here’s the run down: early this morning, there were two bombs, currently suspected as suicide bombers in the Brussels airport, and one in the metro called Maelbeek. ISIS claimed responsibility, and there’s a suspect on the run. Officials believe that these attacks are in relation to an arrest made this weekend in connected to November’s Paris attacks. This is a scary thing that’s happening right now, and maybe it’s not the best for my blog to remember my good memories of study abroad, but I feel like this is a moment I could look back on & kind of reflect.

 

So this morning, I usually have a 9 am which means I’m out of the house around 8:45, but I had my classes rearranged and was supposed to be at the castle at 9:30, which meant I didn’t have to leave until 9:20. Usually, both of my host parents are gone by the time I go downstairs, but for some reason, I could hear the clanking of pots and pans downstairs, meaning someone was home. From the sound of it, it was my host mom, who was always cooking, I assumed. So after I got ready, I went downstairs to have a piece of crostata (a cake my host mom makes with marmalade and a thick crust which is super yummy) and see what was going on. As I made my way down the stairs, I could hear the static of the radio in the kitchen. It’s a pretty old one, it’s got an antenna and everything. When I woke up, I got a BBC alert that there was an explosion in Brussels but honestly I didn’t think anything of it, since reports were only saying one person was dead. Figured it must have been in a factory, on a bus, something on a smaller scale. But as I went downstairs, my host mom greeted me with some espresso, crostata, and asking me if I had heard the news – 11 dead in an explosion in Brussels. “No way,” I said. “BBC reports only one.” “Well maybe you forgot to read the number in front of the 1!” she answered sassily. She’s a sassy lady, I love it.

I opened my BBC report to see that she was right, this was more than just a random explosion but it seemed to be an attack. She turned on the TV, something I’ve never seen done in this house so early in the morning, to an Italian telegiornale. My host mom looked at me and said “you better text me every day you’re gone!” since I leave for spring break next week. I downed my scalding espresso before getting on my bike, which apparently has flat tires, and getting to the castle for my art history class. A few of us had the whole “hey have you seen the news” conversation about Brussels, but some people hadn’t heard about it or just read the headline, and it was still too new to really know everything that was going on. The class ran a little late, so I raced over to the school center on Linn’s bike since ours were locked together and this and that, so anyway when I get to the school center I finally get wifi, and see the death toll has gone up to 15. Between 11:30 and 1 p.m., the death toll surpasses 20, and I realize this is actually pretty bad.

After class, I went to pick up my Kygo concert tickets from someone I was buying them off of, and then found Lauren & Mackenzie for lunch. We talked a little about the whole “hey have you heard about Brussels? How crazy is that?” and talked about how we couldn’t live life in fear. We went into the bar area to pay where the TV was turned onto the a news station as well, where it talked about Maelbeek. Mackenzie & I were trying to figure out if that was a terrorist group or a location or something, unaware it was actually the metro station that was attacked. When we went back, I went on my laptop to look into what was going on a bit more. Read about Trump’s comments, lost some brain cells while reading about him. Watched a couple videos from the airports, wondering who in the right mind films what’s going on while there’s a bomb. Then I realized, I would probably be that person filming, but I don’t think it’s my “millennial” mindset as much as it’s a journalistic mindset. At 4, Linn got out of class, and we decided to go upstairs and print all our stuff out for spring break, which includes five days in Naples and then two days in Paris, ending with a couple hours in Milan.

So as we go upstairs, we get an email from Patrizia which is forwarded from CIEE, stating that Italy is on high security, including a bunch of airports, train stations, metros, tourist areas, etc are currently on high watch following the attacks. I didn’t pay much attention until realizing we are flying out of one of those airports into Paris. This gave me some chilling thoughts of what could happen, especially since I don’t like airports. I think they’re scary, they’re really big and there’s so many people, everyone’s suspicious. But you can’t live in fear. I think I’ll be fine going around, I’m not really scared of whats going to happen.

But all day, I kind of realized like wow, this is some crazy stuff going on. I’m glad I’m in a small town because I’m waaaay safer. I’m glad I’m an organized person who knows what I’m doing most days. I feel like Paris is going to have such high security, it’s going to be a really safe place. When I got home at night, I was watching CNN’s special edition on Snapchat, and watched some videos, including Anderson Cooper’s report and I think after that I got a little nervous. Specifically witness videos. You never know when something is going to happen to you, and it’s completely out of your control, which sucks. Something like this can’t really be prevented, the only way to prevent it is to just stay home. And what does that solve? It lets them win, ya know. The opposite of what we want, we want to continue to live our lives, have fun, make memories.

It made me think how I kind of went about processing this. It took a while for me to understand the magnitude of what happened, and how I thought about the politics of it before people’s lives. Unfortunately, I think that’s how society is nowadays, wondering what dumb thing Trump is saying, when Obama is going to talk, etc. It’s also scary how normal this is. I really didn’t think twice when I got today’s BBC notification, assuming it was nothing big that one person died in an explosion. Isn’t that crazy, what the norm has become?

The good thing is that I’m in a safe place, that security is being put into place for everything to be the safest it can be, and I’m going to live my life and make these memories without living in fear. #PrayforBrussels

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