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8 Tips for Women to Be Safe While Studying Abroad

Posted on Dec 22, 2017

Women safety while studying abroad

Consider the following statistics.

  • According to Open Doors (2002), the leading source of US national statistics on study abroad, twice as many undergraduate women study abroad as men.
  • According to a report by UNESCO, more women than men travel overseas to study.
  • In the US, research reveals that women account for two-thirds of participation in overseas programs.

As it is clearly seen from the figures above, women prefer to study in international schools. Women are more open to change, adapting themselves to new environment and the fact that they seem to have a natural flair to tackle challenges.

If you are a woman, reading this article, you may suddenly want to whoop with joy! The statistics are clearly in your favor. But before you pack your bags to head to your new campus, you need to ensure that you have done a thorough risk assessment, and taken every precaution possible to prevent unwarranted risks. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some risks women students could potentially face, and what you can do to protect yourself.

1. Be Wary of Your Surroundings and the People You Interact With

As a precautionary measure, keep your guard up at all times. Whether you are interacting with ‘friends on campus’ or outside, stay alert for anything that raises a red flag. Place your trust on someone only when you feel secure. If your sixth sense rings an alarm, though you don’t understand why, it is always better to listen to your inner voice.

“As a precautionary measure, keep your guard up at all times.”

2. Don’t Hitchhike a Ride or Get Into an Unlicensed Cab

Whether man or woman, it is never safe to hitchhike a ride. It’s not a safe practice in any city of the world. Also, on the same note, if you are driving, don’t stop to hitch a ride on the highway.

3. Don’t Leave Your Drink or Food Unattended at a Gathering

It’s a commonly known malicious prank to ‘spike’ a drink or food of women who are not cautious. Always hold your drink or your plate of food in your hand or keep it close to you. Stay alert, as you may get engrossed in conversation, while someone mischievously adds intoxicating elements to your food or drink. If you find yourself feeling light-headed or dizzy, seek help of a known and trusted friend to take you back home.

4. Understand the Social Etiquettes are Different in Other Countries

If you have lived in a conservative society, you may find the western way of social behavior too liberal for your liking. Not just that, you may misread some social signals and face a moral dilemma. Before you go abroad to live in the new campus, it would be a good idea to read up about social etiquette and norms that are followed in your host country.

5. You Don’t Have to Compromise on Your Values to ‘Fit In’

Many women think that they will have to shed their values to be a part of the western society. That’s not true. It’s a personal choice. You have to do what you feel is right, not what others dictate to you. Don’t let yourself be bullied into giving up your comfort zone. Make sure that you remain flexible, but only as much as you feel comfortable. Those who assert their own views earn the respect of their colleagues and friends in the long run.

6. When in Rome, …

It is always a good idea to meet the basic acceptance level in terms of cultural adaptation. Find out what behavior, dress, or tradition is acceptable for women in your host country. What you may find acceptable, may be considered unacceptable in other cultures. Make sure you are not crossing the line, and unknowingly offending others.

7. Learn How to Handle Your Finances Independently

Back home, you may have taken the help of your parents or friends in managing your accounts. But as a student abroad, you will have to take care of your daily expenses independently. You will also have to learn how to transact with foreign currency, understand exchange rates, and save money diligently. Also you have to take all precautionary measures to make yourself financially secure. If you have not learnt the ropes of finance management, it is a good time to pick up the basics. Don’t depend on friends to take care of your money. You, and you alone will need to look into your monetary affairs.

8. Try Not to Stand Out in the Crowd When Traveling

Wearing flashy clothes or expensive jewelry is invitation to trouble. You don’t want the attention of muggers in the subway or a lonely sidewalk. As far as possible, blend in with the locals while traveling around the city.

The good news is that foreign universities offer extensive help and support for their women students. There are special groups and international student bodies that focus on women’s needs. If you run into trouble, contact the international student community immediately for help. Make sure to do your due diligence in order to ensure your safety. As a woman abroad, you have the opportunity to spread your wings. You can open the gate to unlimited possibilities. So, keep your common sense intact, and enjoy your study in the college of your dreams.

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