Spring 2023 Study Abroad in France - too risky due to Russia/Ukraine war?

Hi everyone,

My DS is a sophomore at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and currently scheduled to study in eastern France for Spring 2023 semester. With the day-by-day increased threat of a nuclear weapon being used in Ukraine, we are all of a sudden getting really scared to let our son go to Europe. We just don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few months before he goes. I can imagine if Russia does drop a nuclear weapon in Ukraine(or God forbid a European country), it would be mass chaos.

To withdraw from the program without penalties, we have to make a decision by October 15th. How do we make this decision? He’s so excited to go. If we insist he backs out now, chances are all would have been fine, and it’ll be such a missed opportunity. But if we don’t back out now and tensions escalate & we end up cancelling closer to spring, we could be out $15,000 (no refund on tuition after Nov 1st). If we let him go and something terrible happens, we’ll never forgive ourselves.

Anyone else going through this decision process right now?

I personally would not worry about it. We had a daughter spend a bit less than 3 months in Spain (89 days on a 90 day visa) relatively recently. If she were to do this again in the near future it would not worry me.

France is generally up wind from Ukraine, and is more than 2,000 km away from Ukraine. It has the military ability to devastate Russia even without NATO’s help. I do not think that Putin wants to go anywhere near any NATO country.

I cannot predict the future. However, this would not worry me.

I do think that I would make sure that my child was fully vaccinated for COVID before sending them off to anywhere outside of North America (and we did exactly this before our daughter went to Spain).

I might add, to me this sounds like a really cool trip to take. I am jealous! I sort of wonder why I didn’t do the same thing back when I was young.


This, in a nutshell, is most of the parenting decisions you have made for the last 16 years. And yet, he now crosses the street by himself. He likely drives a car on public roads, even though car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. He is going to a country where students never have live shooter drills at school.

We scare ourselves in unhelpful ways when we think of all the “terrible things” that could happen. To quote the great Carolyn Hax, “Anything that fills your heart has the power to smash it to bits. Welcome to parenthood.”

tl;dr- I wouldn’t hesitate, and my bona fides on this are pretty good- this particular worry hadn’t even occurred to me until I read your post, even though the first born has just started working in Geneva!


I would assume that if you move forward with the study abroad and after the withdraw date there is some escalation in conflict, you would be able to back out. Is there some clause about natural or man-made disaster? Also a GT mom and my kid (first year) is looking at a study abroad at some point.

I would not avoid France now because of what’s going on in Ukraine. The benefits of that time abroad greatly outweigh any risk. And after all, you think that if it gets big enough to affect France, that it wouldn’t affect us here?

This reminds me of all the times, before Israel built the security fence, that terrorists blew themselves up on buses and in restaurants in Israel. I’d call my friends, asking if everyone was okay, how were they managing. And they’d reply with descriptions of their children’s concerts, their work in the garden, just the events of everyday, normal life. I didn’t understand, until September 11th, when in one fell swoop, we lost more people in a coordinated terrorist attack than Israel had lost in all the terrorist bombings, and we had to just go on with everyday life. I realized then that we here were at just as high risk as they were.

This is a similar situation. I wouldn’t send a child to North Korea, or Russia, or Iran, where they’d be at high risk of becoming a government hostage, or even to South Africa, with its horribly high rate of violent crime. But France? I don’t think it’s any higher risk right now for them to go to France than to live in the US. BTW, did you know that parents in the rest of the world don’t want their children to come study in the US because they’re afraid of the risk of their children winding up being shot, what with all the gun violence in America? College campuses have been the scene of angry mass shootings, and yet, we all send our kids off to college.


We live in the UK and I’d just like to echo other posters that it will likely be fine. It’s a great opportunity for him and France is quite far from Ukraine (and if France really comes to be threatened, the US will probably not be so safe either). All the best to your DS.


Yes, fourth shot (2nd booster) if possible.

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Our daughter is going to a Berlin/Vienna study abroad program in Spring 2023. I feel a bit uneasy when I read about Berlin as a possible target for Putin’s nuclear strike, but I think it’s highly unlikely to happen. We’re not considering withdrawing from the program–she’s been so looking forward to it. Just hoping for the better. I’m myself from Ukraine, so I do hope no nuclear strike against Ukraine happens… What world we live in… Sigh.

I think at this point, after the pandemic and all, if we wait for a perfect time to send kids abroad, we can wait for a very long time.


Yes, the geography is pretty important here. Even in the extreme case where a tactical nuclear weapon was used, the impact would most likely be no more than the effect of the Chernobyl explosion (which released hundreds of times more radiation than the Hiroshima bomb Comparison of Chernobyl and other radioactivity releases - Wikipedia ).

In that case there was minimal impact in Western Europe, the most significant thing I remember was that you weren’t allowed to eat locally reared lamb for a few months (because they had eaten a lot of mildly contaminated grass). Much worse in the immediate vicinity of course, but not 2000km away.

And in the event of all out nuclear war, a tuition refund will be the least of your problems.


If Russia uses a nuclear weapon in Berlin, nobody would be safe anywhere. It would trigger a cascade of horrible reactions impacting the entire world.

One of our kids went off to London less than a month after the tube bombings…remember those? We didn’t think twice about this. The university didn’t cancel the program so…the kid went.

I’m not a fan of making decisions out of fear.

Comparing major countries in North America to France and Spain, COVID-19 deaths per million: US > Mexico > Spain > France > Canada

Probably means that if vaccination against COVID-19 is important for going to Spain or France, it is even more important for staying in the US.


My son went to France for study aboard with his college and loved every minute of it. They went to Brussels and Amsterdam on the weekends also. He will have a ball.


My adult son is living in Warsaw, 125 miles from the Ukrainian border. His feeling is that if Russia invades Poland, we’re ALL in trouble, and I see his point. I’m really not worried about him for some reason. I wouldn’t hesitate to send my child to France now.

Don’t worry, Elon Musk is going to solve this problem :wink:

Viewed politically, your son would be moving from one NATO country to another. Estimated risks may be tied to this fact more than to the comparative physical proximity to Russia and Ukraine. In other words, a move from the U.S. to France may represent a neutral (or indeterminate) relocation with respect to the risk in question.

Of course. I do hope it doesn’t get to this anywhere, including Ukraine.

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I live in France. It’s true the situation is unpredictable but we are not walking around in fear of attack here. Having just sent my child to the US for college I have to say that the fears run in the opposite direction as well. The violent crime rate is higher in the US and if I get in a certain mood I can start to worry. I stop myself. These are two relatively safe countries. Good luck with your decision. Hoping for a more peaceful world.