Siena College student studying abroad in Brussels speaks to NEWS10 ABC amid attacks

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Erwin Premchan was living his dream in Brussels. The Schenectady native’s family speaks fluent Dutch, so when Siena College offered him a spot in their study abroad program he jumped at the opportunity.

“It was like the one thing I had to do in college,” said Premchan, student at Siena College.

brussels student

Every day since he’s arrived in January, Erwin says he’s woken up brimming with excitement, but on Tuesday, he had a much different feeling; fearing chaos.

“There were a lot of sirens. I could hear them outside my window,” he explained.

This is not how Erwin says he wants to remember Brussels.

“They said do not come to class today there have been several bombings of the metros and the buses aren’t running anymore,” Erwin told NEWS10 ABC.

His university is just one block from a bomb that was deactivated before it could detonate.

“It was a really close call,” said the Siena student. “I’m very grateful and very lucky that they told us not to come into classes and that they had cancelled classes so early. And that they acted on the situation as it was, because I could have been walking by. My heart goes out to all the families who lost someone or who have someone in the hospital right now,” Premchan said.

For many like Erwin who remain on lockdown in their homes, schools or workplaces, they wait in fear and sadness. But despite the tragedy Erwin says he’s in no rush to get home.

“I want to finish up my semester here. I don’t want to sell my semester abroad short because of an incident like this because if I do that in a sense the terrorists win,” said Premchan.

The one thing Erwin really wanted to stress was just how helpful Siena College was with getting in touch with him, calming him and reaching out to his family. He says he’s grateful for all of those who are thinking of him back at home.

We also spoke with folks at the college of St. Rose and Union College. Both facilities have none of their students studying in Brussels currently.

Below is a statement from Siena College:

Siena College has four students in Brussels, Belgium today. Two students are studying there as part of Siena’s study abroad program, and two were visiting the city during their study abroad time in Spain. All four students are safe and have been in contact with their families.

On behalf of Siena’s staff, faculty and students, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of today’s attacks, and we pray for an end to terrorism and violence around the world.

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