London: AU student near blast; goes on with day

Tue, 2012-07-31 14:20 -- univcomm

Anderson University student Amanda Norvell arrived in London eight days before the July 7 terrorist explosions that killed 52 people. Thursday, she was on the still-crippled northern Tube when a second series of bombs exploded (Photo: Mike Finn-Kelcey/Reuters).

“We were on our way into central London about noonish,” Norvell told The Middletown Journal in Middletown, Ohio, by cell phone two hours after the bombing. “We were stopped and security guards came on. They started yelling, ‘Get off the Tube.’ There was a lot of confusion, but everyone got off and they gated up the entrance.” Norvell said, from her vantage point near Notting Hill, she could not see any smoke or signs of injured people. “We really didn’t know what had happened. They didn’t tell us anything,” she said.

Norvell is in England with a fellow classmate from Anderson University, Amy Wanaselja, of Brownsburg, Ind. The women are juniors at Anderson University.

Norvell is one who itches to see the world. The 21-year-old college student’s parents have nixed several of her requests to study abroad, noting the unrest and terrorist danger in some countries, she said.

But this year, Terri and Steve Norvell gave their daughter the green light for a summer trip to Europe to study at Middlesex University in northern London. The trip has given her the perfect view of both the wonders and unrest of other areas of the world.

Norvell said she has adopted the mindset of Londoners, who are fairly resilient and determined not to give in to terrorists. So, like most who were evacuated from the Tube, Norvell and Wanaselja boarded buses and went on with their day.

Norvell and her friends were planning a day of sightseeing. They proceeded from the Tube to the London Zoo aboard “a crammed-full bus.”

At the zoo a few hours after the bombing, Norvell said not many people were talking about the latest explosions.

“I don’t think anyone knows much yet,” Norvell said while standing near the orangutan exhibit. “But everything seems pretty safe here.”

The 2002 Madison High School graduate was sitting in her marketing research class at Middlesex when the deadly bombings occurred two weeks ago. At first the students thought the unrest was part of a “brown-out” caused by an electrical surge, but eventually they learned the terrible reality.

Norvell admitted the bombings scared her. She said everyone now looks a little harder and more suspiciously at those around them.

“They have changed a lot of things, security-wise, here,” she said.

Along with the tragic loss of lives, the first bombings have caused a great inconvenience to residents of the British capital who rely on the Tube.

“The system here is immaculate and people use it all the time,” Norvell said.

She said the Tube commute from her living quarters on the Middlesex Trement Park campus that took 30 minutes before the July 7 bombings now takes an hour and 45 minutes.

“Parts of the Tube are still closed from before and you can still see where the fire came through,” Norvell said. She said she has no plans to leave Europe before her scheduled departure date of Aug. 4. Norvell has now finished her class and is touring the area and sightseeing.

“I didn’t leave after the first one. I’m not leaving now,” she said. “It’s up to us. Do we want to live in fear or live? I choose to live my life and not give in. It could happen anywhere in the world.”

Terri Norvell, Amanda’s mother, was glad to hear from her daughter at about 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, assuring her that she was safe.

“She wanted me to turn on the television and tell her what they were saying about it. They were not telling them anything over there,” Terri Norvell said.

While concern for her daughter’s safety is ever present, Terri Norvell said she agrees with Amanda that similar incidents could happen anywhere.

And she knows this firsthand.

Terri Norvell was in the Middletown Public Library Tuesday morning when a fake bomb was found outside the building on Second Avenue.

“I was just pulling a book off the shelf when a police officer came around the corner and told me we had to evacuate,” Terri Norvell said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Middletown police and the Butler County Bomb Unit determined the suspicious bag and foil-wrapped box inside was constructed to look like a bomb, but contained no explosives.

“Of course we would prefer she was home,” Terri Norvell said. “But we have prayers surrounding her from our church. And I agree, we don’t want to give in to the people who are doing this.”

— Lauren Pack is a reporter with the Middletown Journal in Middletown, Ohio. Story posted with permission. Send e-mail comment to (513) 705-2841