Strangers With Candy
From the time we’re children, “safety first” has been beaten into our brains by the likes of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers (am I showing my age??) and kindergarten teachers everywhere. And though many things we learn as children may have been long forgotten, safety is something we all still need to be mindful of, regardless of our ages. Obviously, I am by no means suggesting that your internship abroad should be the ideal time to develop agoraphobia, but at the same time it would not be wise to throw all caution to the wind either. It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of new surroundings, meeting new people, etc. and you should make the most of your time abroad, but striking the right balance of fun and common sense can help to ensure that your trip is one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have- without the scars of an unpleasant experience that you can’t forget.
Following are a few things to bear in mind while travelling (and many are applicable to everyday outings in your home city as well):
-Don’t Show Me The Money!-
Pretend for a moment that you’re a petty thief and you’re looking for your next target. Of the following 3 people, who do you think would catch your eye?: a) the drunk 20 year old American guy at the bar making the most of the ‘while in Rome’ concept, waving a wad of cash in the air and declaring his intent to buy a round for all his new mates, b) the fashionista diva dressed to the nines with her ever-so-fashionable mega-handbag that’s so big it could probably double as a hammock if she needed a place to crash that night, or c) the guy in the baggy jeans with the 2 inch thick wallet bulging in his back pocket. Actually, I think my money would be on all 3! The name of the game here is to CONCEAL. Thin out your wallet, bring a smaller purse; only bring what’s absolutely necessary for that outing and keep it in an inconspicuous pocket, etc… don’t advertise the fact that you’ve got something that an undesirable character might want. Ladies: if you must carry a purse and you’re walking with others, it’s a good idea to hang your purse on the shoulder closest to your companion, making it more difficult for a grab-and-run thief to steal your goods.
-Strangers With Candy-
(Or the adult equivalent of candy- ALCOHOL) Don’t accept drinks from strangers unless you’ve witnessed the bartender pour the drink and certainly don’t leave it unattended while making a run to the loo!
-No Man Left Behind-
I know you may think you just met Mr Right and you really don’t want the night to end, but when your friends are ready to leave, IT’S TIME TO GO. Anyone can be anything you want them to be over a 6 hour span of time and your judgment is probably not going to be spot-on while looking through the bottom of a pint glass. Bottom line: Don’t leave the pack… the old ‘safety in numbers’ rule still applies. I know, I know… you’re an adult and you can look after yourself, but humor your friend(s); don’t make them worry about you when you don’t return to your flat. If Mr Right is truly right, he will understand and make time for you at a later date. And if you’re the friend leaving, don’t take no for an answer. The evening of resentment you may endure from your friend is much better than the next-day regrets you may have to face.
-A (Drunken) Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted-
It’s easy to misjudge that fine line between cutting loose a little and overindulging. If you know you’re going to step over that line, make sure you have a reliable wingman who can be your voice of reason and do a bit of chaperoning that night. But be a good friend and be sure to repay the favor!
These are just a few little things that can help to ensure a pleasant adventure. For more safety tips, please visit http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1747.html (note in particular, the “Precautions to Take While Travelling” section).
(Safe and) happy travels to you!