Roosevelt University Philosophy Student Shares Paris Experience

McKenna HeintzCHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–November 20, 2015.  Roosevelt University student McKenna Heintz envisioned study abroad this semester at the University of Sussex in England as an opportunity to expand horizons and travel.

The 21-year-old Philosophy and English major never imagined, however, that a weekend visit to Paris would bring her dangerously close to a terrorist attack that left more than 130 people dead.

“We were going to go to a restaurant in that area, but my friend didn’t like the food there, so we ended up going south into the city’s Latin Quarter,” said Heintz, who will return to Roosevelt’s Chicago Campus next semester as a junior.

While staying south of the city’s Seine River on Friday night, Nov. 13, was a lucky choice and fortunate decision, Heintz and five friends, all American study-abroad students, sensed a pall over Paris as they made their way to the Latin Quarter.

“There were a lot of police and military around. Then we were on the Metro and people were talking in hushed tones,” she said. “Everywhere I looked, people seemed to be incredibly somber.”

Stuart Warner, a Roosevelt associate professor of philosophy and one of Heintz’s mentors, had suggested recently over Skype that Heintz visit Paris before returning home to her family in Chippewa Falls, Wis. next month.

He never imagined, either, that the trip would point her in the direction of possible danger.

“When I saw what was going on over there, I sent her an email and asked her to please write and let me know that everything was OK,” recalled Warner.

“I really appreciated his (Warner’s) concern,” Heintz said during a phone conversation after she’d returned safely to England’s Brighton.  “I remember writing him back, telling him I was OK.”

Heintz, who can’t speak French, believes she might not have grasped the gravity of the situation without the company of friends who speak the language, and who received text messages early on about the siege.

“I didn’t know what to feel at the time. Being 10 minutes away from a terrorist attack changes your perspective on things,” she said.

After realizing the situation, Heintz telephoned family members and friends back home. They advised she get indoors for safety.

Walking back to her lodging rather than take the risk of the Metro going back through city center, Heintz stayed indoors for most of Saturday. However, when she and her friends finally decided to venture out, a French woman and host to the Americans offered this advice: “It’s just another day. Go out and live your life. We don’t have to live in fear.”

Determined then to make the best of the weekend jaunt, Heintz and her friends walked up and down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. They passed a darkened Eiffel Tower. They made their way to Montmartre and climbed the hill for a look inside the Sacre Couer church and the view over the city.

“Even in a state of emergency, Paris is a beautiful place,” said Heintz. “I’m glad that Professor Warner encouraged me to go there, and I definitely do want to go back there to see more.”

A part-time student worker at Roosevelt’s Wabash Building bookstore and a tutor in Roosevelt’s Writing Center, Heintz enjoys writing and regularly keeps a journal.  A blogpost about her Paris sojourn can be viewed at: