Keeping Safety In Mind

Katrina Matthews-Mcgann
October 22, 2016
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Hello dear reader(s),

A very important component for students (and their parents) when they consider studying abroad is safety. You study abroad so you can meet great people, eat great food, and have an overall great time. Looking over your shoulder every few seconds when you walk down the block or being too afraid to go out at night with your friends can seriously put a damper on your plans to have fun. So, in order to help you have the best time possible, I’ve thought up just a few ideas on how to stay safe in whatever city you’re planning on going to.

Some general tips for staying safe:

1.     Tell someone where you’re going. Whether you’re going out to attend class, get a snack, or are planning to party all night, just let someone, anyone (be it your host family, a friend, etc.), know what your general plans are. That way, someone has a basic idea of when to expect to hear from you and can act accordingly if they don’t.

2.     Find a buddy or two. Having a friend go out with you or going out with a group of people, especially to areas a bit sketchier than most, is a great way to stay safe, namely because you literally have someone watching your back. You’re not in a scary situation alone, you can brainstorm ideas of how to evade dangerous situations, and there’s someone there to go get help if something goes wrong.

General rule ~ There’s safety in numbers.

3.     Look confident. The best way to not be targeted by pickpockets as an easy to steal from tourist is to not look like a tourist. I’ve found that one of the best ways to not look like a tourist is to not look lost. Try not to stare at the Google map you have up on your phone as you walk or gawk too much at something new you see.

General rule ~ Think to yourself: “If I saw someone in my home city doing what I’m doing now, would I automatically think that they’re a tourist?” If the answer is yes, stop doing that thing. There are definitely other factors like clothing and speaking that can indicate whether you’re a tourist or not, but more often than not, it’s your physical actions that give you away.

4.     Don’t drink too much. If you’re in a part of town you’ve never been to before or have traveled to a new town altogether it’s not going to be a good idea to get drunk.  One, you may not know the best way to return to where you’re staying and being drunk definitely will not help your navigation skills. Two, remember that your drunk self is extremely vulnerable. Your reflexes and cognitive processing are a lot slower and it can be way too easy for someone to see this and decide you’re an easy target. If you plan on going out and think there’s a possibility you’ll be drinking, this is a great moment to enact the buddy system.

5.     Stay true to yourself. If you find that you’re about to do something that you normally would never do, rethink it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take new chances or try new things while you’re abroad. You should definitely step out of your comfort zone when you’re travelling. But if these new things include something you thought would be dangerous if you were back home, it’s not a good idea to do it in a foreign country.

General rule ~ Before you do the thing, think: If your best friend were about to do the same thing you’re about to do and told you beforehand and your first instinct upon hearing about it was to talk them out of it, then you probably should not be doing that thing either.

6.     Practice common sense. Don’t do anything that wouldn’t normally do if you were back home or anything that doesn’t make sense to you.

General rule ~ Before doing the thing, think: “If I saw some random person doing this same thing, would I think, wow, they’re such an idiot, how did that make sense to them?” If the answer is yes, it’s probably best not to do that thing.


These are only a few tips for staying safe while studying abroad. I highly recommend that you research more tips and ideas on staying safe so you can be your most informed self. I sincerely hope this helps reader(s). Until next time.

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Katrina Matthews-Mcgann

<p>I&#39;m a third year college student excited about seeing everything this amazing planet has to offer. Originally from Oregon, I&#39;ve slowly been finding my place in the world through travels throughout North America, China, and now Europe! I hope this blog offers advice, inspiration, and a bit of humor for any current and future travelers.</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
Pomona College
International Relations
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