Kerry comments on perception of INT student safety
This week, safety in America has been at the heart of many discussions, with the situation in Boston, and John Kerry’s comments that Japanese students are scared to study in the States.
Kerry’s comments have since been labelled as merely anecdotal, and the opinions of just one or two officials he spoke to while on an international tour. It doesn't seem to have affected the perception of America by prospective international students either; while numbers of students from Japan has declined in the last decade, large increases in students from India and China have made up for this. Japan is now the seventh largest sender of students in the world.
Whether at home or abroad, the chances of falling victim to a crime are low; however everyone is guilty of not being as careful as they should be at one time or another. Student-populated areas worldwide are also susceptible to being targeted by thieves because they know students will have laptops and devices, and will be away during holidays. Adjusting to a new place and lifestyle can result in not being as careful as one ought to be. So we thought we would look at a few simple safety tips when studying in a new country; many are simply common sense, but are good to go over all the same:
Avoid exploring new areas after dark, as you’re more likely to get lost somewhere which is unfamiliar. University unions will often put on events in the first few weeks of term to give students a chance to venture into the local area, with society administrators and current students on hand; take advantage of these events, to become comfortable venturing off-campus. Also,
If you’re working in the library or laboratory late during final exams, keep an eye on the time, and how dark it is getting outside. This is when you’re likely to be carrying laptops and tablets for work, and thieves may very well guess this too. If necessary arrange for someone to pick you up, or walk home with you. Additionally, avoid taking these devices out, outside, or turn the brightness down on them so they don't attract attention.
Safety is a great reason to socialise with those around you, and especially those you live with. They’ll likely have the best idea of your comings and goings, so if something does happen, they'll notice. It also means you have someone close by to help you in any situation; whether because you've lost your phone, or you need to borrow an ingredient for a meal.
Even though we don’t give it a second thought, avoid broadcasting your entire life on social media. While you can make sure your account privacy settings are tight, you can’t always say the same thing for your three hundred friends on Facebook. Also, avoid regularly “checking in” to places as this can give away your comings and goings if someone was to target you specifically.
For those without a valid form of I.D. in a new country, like a driving licence, get one as soon as you can. Some businesses may not accept identification from another country. Many first year students in a new country rely on a passport to get into bars, or get served alcohol. However, like your phone or wallet, having your passport on you when you’re consuming alcohol can be an awful idea in terms of losing it.
When looking for accommodation, take note of the security details. Are their locks on doors? Are there special electronic keys to get in and out of buildings? How high are windows? Would you feel safe living here for one or more years? These are just a few questions to think about when you’re browsing accommodation options (it can all be a bit overwhelming, and things you want to ask, can slip your mind).
Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.