‘Last night was one of the worst I have ever experienced’: We spoke to Warwick students in Paris

They are safe


The Tab spoke to some of our Erasmus students in Paris to check their well-being and bring you their experience of the horrors of Friday 13th.

The scene outside a student's apartment

The scene outside a student’s apartment

Amy Brandis

“All I can say is last night was one of the worst I have ever experienced. It was chaotic. I live in the centre of the city in the second arrondisement just below where two of the attacks occurred. Helicopters were circling my area for hours. The sirens never seemed to cease.

“I was alone in my flat and quite frankly terrified, even though I knew I was safe. The terror we felt increased as we heard of the bodies that were being recovered around the Bastille area, where some of my friends and I were planning to go that evening. My friend lives on the street where the first shooting began and I feared for her safety, but thankfully she stayed inside her flat and is OK.

“We all feel vulnerable but the Warwick students are out here supporting each other, and we are safe. No one I know has been harmed. I left my flat today and although some shops are closed the atmosphere is quite normal, surprisingly.

“I just fear that this will increase the islamophobia and militarisation of policing in the city further.”

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Varsha Patel

“I would say it is definitely the most unexpected thing. It’s one thing seeing it on the news, and another having it all happen on your doorstep, and this is probably why we just can’t get our heads around it. The news of the further attacks are all in places we go to all the time, which is so scary.

“We are currently being advised to stay in, as there are already rumours of further attacks on the 20th. I think it’s going to be difficult for Paris to recover from this, but we will definitely be able to.

“I’m thankful that the news broke quite early and we managed to get home to safety quite early on, but my thoughts go out to those who weren’t as lucky”.

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Another Erasmus student from Warwick wanted to share their experience, but preferred to remain anonymous. They said, “My friend Varsha and I decided to attend the opening night of the Champs Elysées Christmas market that we had seen in the weeks leading up to it, being set up with jovial Christmas spirit.

“At the top of a magnificent Ferris wheel we had the most breathtaking view of Paris. On our left we had a view of the Louvre and Notre Dame, whilst at 2 o’clock we could see the majestic tour Eiffel in all her glory. Little did we know that moments later I would receive a call, urging me to go home: Paris is under attack.

“An idyllic evening that unbeknownst to us would be pierced by the shrill screams of sirens. An alarming number of police cars and ambulances racing the streets to deal with the casualties.

“A night that will be forever ingrained in France’s history, marked by murderers that have the blood of 130 people on their hands.

“The most ironic part of this all was that I was in denial. I thought at first it must have been a spurned lover, or a mentally challenged individual. That there was no way the attacks were related and that it was just an odd coincidence. The harsh reality of it all was apparent with the sound of helicopters above my head, where they still are at this very moment.

“But above all, France will stay strong and refuses to bow down in the face of terror”.

Varsha just before the attacks began

Varsha just before the attacks began

The University of Warwick has now sent out an email asking them to confirm their safety and affirming that their welfare is their “main priority”. They urge affected students to stay indoors and, if absolutely necessary to venture outdoors, to travel in groups or pairs.

To anyone affected back home on Warwick campus, the chaplaincy is open for any students who wish to talk about the terrible events. The chapel is also lighting candles out of respect for those lost in the attacks.

In Paris, a three day mourning is taking place out and pictures of the city turning off its lights are flooding social media, along with the global response of countries illuminating important landmarks with the French colours.

Our thoughts go out to those affected in Paris, and we hope that everyone is doing as well as can be hoped for.