In the excitement that inevitably comes when organizing your future studies abroad, you may not always pause to consider your security. How will you feel in your new surroundings and will you feel safe?
The happy reality is that the vast majority of study destinations in the world are likely to be at least as safe as your present location, but it never hurts to be prepared. Here are some tips to aid your confidence and safety when embarking on your study abroad journey.
Being surrounded by a culture that is new to you may present you with customs and behaviours that you are not used to. Ideally you should make sure you don’t offend anybody by learning about social norms, though you will find that people universally tend to be quite tolerant of one another, especially if you are making an effort!
If possible try and read up on your location, anything from travel books to learn a little history, to internet forums talking about the best local takeaways! Perhaps you could even try to locate a pen pal or two. A great source of knowledge would be students returning from your destination country, as they will be able to give you a load of useful tips. Also make contact with the international section of your destination University. Most Universities will have a wealth of information to help you out and will be able to put you in touch with other students to speak with.
If you are going to be speaking a new language, practice as much as you can before you go, perhaps by taking classes, practicing on a mobile phone app or speaking to any locals who can help you out.
Although you may not realize it, you have probably built up a routine of behaviours in your home country to help protect your safety. Our advice is not to abandon these behaviours in your new study location. Perhaps this means little things sharing taxi rides. It helps to start out with some caution, so don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel completely comfortable doing at home. With time you will start to feel comfortable in your new surroundings and you will gain the confidence to know how best to act.
If you are traveling alone, why not use this as an opportunity to make some new friends on your way? When you are experiencing a situation for the first time, It is much easier to cope with when it is a shared experience. A good group of friends can give you confidence and help you laugh.
Another upside is security in numbers; you are less likely to receive unwanted attention or hassle when you are traveling in a group. If you are flying to your new destination, you may well be grouped with other students going to the same place – other students who will be just as happy as you to talk about it.
When you are establishing your new routines in your new location, consider seeking out other students with shared interests and hobbies, this can be a great way to build a group of friends that you can spend time with regularly.
Some simple advice would be to not attract too much attention whilst you find your feet. Try not to carry or display too much money or expensive gadgetry, as pickpockets sadly exist in most corners of the world.
Although the vast majority of people you meet will be trustworthy, try to never get yourself in a situation where you feel at threat. This includes people who may be overly persuasive in a social context, or people who you suspect might be trying to distract your attention in some way so that they might attempt to steal something from you.
Please remember that studying abroad is generally a great experience and there is usually no reason why your personal safety should be at risk. It pays to be sensible and avoid situations that are obvious to you as being unsafe.
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