P.E.I. college students safe in Brussels, leaving city today

Holland College Tourism and Travel Management students Amy Dawson and Jillian Arsenault say they are safe in Brussels, Belgium and have plans to leave the city today.

Amy Dawson and Jillian Arsenault continued to city after learning of bombing

Jillian Arsenault and Amy Dawson plan to leave Brussels, Belgium today after travelling there shortly after the bombings. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Holland College Tourism and Travel Management students Amy Dawson and Jillian Arsenault say they are safe in Brussels, Belgium and have plans to leave the city today.

Dawson, of Hampton, P.E.I., and Jillian Arsenault from Wellington, P.E.I., travelled to Brussels from Paris, and learned of the bombings at the airport and in the subway system when Dawson's cousin texted her from Vienna, Austria, 30 minutes before they were set to board the bus.

"We just left Paris today at 11 a.m. and we got a text from my cousin who lives in Vienna at 10:30 who said there was bombing in Brussels," Dawson told CBC's Island Morning.

Neither of them thought they would be permitted to travel to Brussels but they were allowed to board the bus and proceed.

"We didn't think the bus would let us go. Then we got to the bus station and we expected to get our money back because they wouldn't let us go, but they went as casual as they could, and they let us in and we went on our way," said Dawson.

Dawson and Arsenault, who are both 20 and studying in Austria for five months, are on March break travelling and sightseeing in different cities.

When they arrived in Brussels and got Wi-Fi in a restaurant, they contacted their families.

"We got Wi-Fi and then our family members were texting us, freaking out," said Dawson.

"Our parents - Jill's dad actually - contacted my mom freaking out wondering how we were doing because for the bus ride we didn't have any Wi-Fi from the time the bombing started until we landed in Brussels."

The pair said when they arrived in Brussels people were still walking around and going about their day as if nothing had happened. Although they did notice there were police with guns everywhere.

Both said they weren't nervous until they connected with their family.

"That's when we decided we were in a dangerous place," said Dawson.

Dawson and Arsenault said they were staying in a hotel 30 minutes from the airport. Their families asked them to stay put. Belgium President Charles Michel also made an appeal for people to stay inside and remain safe.

But both said they did venture out to get supper and walk around the city centre.  

They say it's weird being in a city where a bombing has happened.

"We watched the Paris bombings from home and now we are in Brussels and seeing all these celebrities and people from home saying pray for Belgium and we're here," said Dawson.

"We're hoping it will be safer," said Arsenault when talking about going to catch the bus to return to Vienna today.

The women said there is an increase in security in every city you visit in Europe. 


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