Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity not many students have a chance at. Though the idea of vacationing while earning your degree in a foreign place sounds exciting, parents often turn down the subject because they fear for their child’s safety. As for the students that get to go, many don’t think for their own safety. Here are some good quick tips to staying safe, but also having fun while studying abroad.
* People watch and be alert – know where people are, what they’re doing, and how close they are to you. Never let someone get into your personal space. Many pick-pocketers can slip their hand into your purse and out without you even feeling it! Woman in Rome, Italy hold a sign up asking for money and food with a fake baby as another woman or man rush past you without bringing attention to them. Within that two second pass, they collect your cash, cards, and passport. Trust me, that I know from experience.
* Don’t dress or act like a tourist – Looking like an American or traveling in a large group of Americans attracts attention to the fact you don’t know the area. Tourist or more likely to get robbed in foreign place.
* Know where the nearest police department and hospital is – there may be an emergency and you will need to know where you can locate help.
* Be discreet with money – don’t show off your cash, and be sure not to carry large sums. A great idea to watch your money if you must carry a lot is to hang on to it in multiple places. Sound funny? It works! Put some in your wallet, some in your socks, and girls, a $20 for emergencies in your bra never hurt! Think about it, wouldn’t you notice a pick pocketer in your bra??? Guys, instead of putting your wallet in your back pants pocket, place it in your shirt chest pocket.
* Stay away from crowded areas – pickpocketers travel in pairs or groups and staying an arms length away, while holding your belongings tightly will help you NOT losing your money or other important papers.
* Give your friends or family back home important papers – make copies of your passport, schedule, housing address and phone, and other important papers so your family can contact you in case of emergency.
* Don’t forget your passport – apply for it early to make sure you won’t be the only student waiting for it the day of. Passports take a while, so the sooner you get it taken care of, the sooner you will get it and that’s one check mark you can make on your long list of to do’s before traveling.
* Trust yourself – if you feel like something is wrong, tell your director or abroad host/hostess immediately. Don’t take chances when they might be risky.
* Shots – Find out all the immunizations and vaccines you will need for the particular country you are going to. Get them within 2-3 months before leaving.
Enjoy your experience, but use caution and stay safe.