Perspectives from Paris



Caroline Foley

The Villanovan reached out to student Devon Carroll,  who is studying abroad in Europe, about her experiences in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France.

The Villanovan: What are you studying abroad and where?

Devon Carroll: I’m studying Finance and Business in Copenhagen at DIS.

TV: Why were you in Paris?

DC: I was on travel break from DIS, and was traveling in Paris with my mom.

TV: What were you doing and where were you during the Paris incident?

DC: I was leaving a wine tasting in Les Halles when the shootings started to take place. My mom and I left a wine tasting in the same neighborhood as the attacks and started to walk around a little to do some shopping. But we noticed that all of the stores were closing or already closed, so we made our way back to the main road to get a cab. It started to get a little hectic on the road and we were unsure why so we quickly got in a cab and made our way back to the hotel by the Eiffel tower. Right when we got back inside we started getting messages from our friends at home asking about the bombing and shootings. Then it hit that we literally were just on the same road where the shootings went down. It was all by chance that we left right before it happened.

TV: How did you find out about the incident?

DC: My sister in New York City texted my mom asking if we were alright. 

TV: How did you feel when you heard about the attacks?

DC: I was completely in shock. I was literally right there moments before it happened, and I couldn’t believe that what I was hearing was true. Looking back, I wonder why my mom and I left when we did and why we were so lucky when so many others were not. Although I wasn’t injured by any of the attacks, I was still left in awe. The idea that the same roads that I was just walking on were turned into a battle ground at the blink of an eye is chilling. Although you should not live your life in fear, after going through these events it is hard not to be fearful.

TV: What were your impressions of France before entering? Has your mindset changed at all?

DC: Before, I viewed France as a place where the arts and love flourished. I still view Paris in the same way. After seeing the unity that took place among the people in Paris after the events, I can without a doubt say that Paris is a place of love. Hate was brought into the city, but hate cannot last. The love that was demonstrated by the people standing together as one in Paris after the attacks is a clear indicator that love still reigns strong over hate.

TV: Have you noticed any ISIS and or refugee tensions while abroad? 

DC: Yes. I have noticed refugee tensions while abroad. I am studying in Denmark, which has been notorious for having an extremely strong Social Democratic welfare state. Because of that, a lot of refugees attempt to become registered in the Scandinavian countries, because they receive a larger package from the government in attempts to start new lives. 

Recently, Denmark has slashed its refugee package due to the new conservative political party in power. This has created a lot of tension within Copenhagen, resulting in numerous demonstrations calling for an increase in refugee aid. 

I also was just in Sweden yesterday. Taking the train going from Copenhagen to Lund, Sweden is very simple and extremely unregulated. Most people don’t even bring an ID card when crossing the borders on the train because they are never checked. 

However, yesterday when I went things were extremely different. Sweden reached its limits on refugees allowed into the country so there was heightened security on the train to catch any refugees attempting to cross the boarder into Sweden (which has a much more appealing package for refugees then Denmark). That means there were passport checks of the whole train and a full sweep to look for hiding refugees. 

As we crossed into Sweden our train was stopped and searched, and they found over 50 refugees hiding on our train. We all watched as heavily armed policemen herded them like cattle down the platform. The saddest part was that these refugees were not dangerous or intimidating—rather, they were scared and weak. Most were families with young children, holding nothing except the hands of their loved ones. 

It was such a sad image, and I wish I could have done something to help, but the refugee crisis here in Scandinavia has become a common sight.