How to Study Abroad: Culture of Safety Video

September 23, 2019 posted by

The UT Study Abroad
staff works to create safe and enjoyable
international experiences. We are going to discuss
what you can do to ensure that you have a
safe and healthy study abroad experience. This video will provide
information on: cultural differences, situational and
locational awareness, the value of using
local knowledge, and the use of good
judgment with alcohol. You will likely find many
cultural differences in the country
you will be living in. Whether it’s some place
such as England or Australia. Or some place such as
China or Guatemala. While part of any study
abroad experience is learning to adapt to
new environments different from your home, being aware of cultural
differences helps to reduce risks that may be
present in your new environment. We are going to cover some
examples of how cultural awareness affects
student safety while abroad. In order to stay safe
while you’re abroad, it is important to pay
attention to subtle cues in your environment. As there may not always
be signs or disclaimers that you are used to here
in the United States. For example, if you go to
the beach and notice that nobody is swimming
in the water, it would be a good idea
to ask a local before you jump into the waves. There could be a very
good reason why no one is in the water,
such as dangerous riptide or jellyfish. In many parts of the world,
drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians interact
in dramatically different ways than they do
here in the States. Simple acts, such as
crossing the street or hailing a cab can be
more hazardous than what you’re accustomed
to here in Austin. Study abroad students
often take for granted the safety precautions
that are found in the U.S. It’s important that students
in foreign environments recognize that we’ll need
time to understand new risks in their
everyday activities. Paying attention to your
surroundings is always good advice. But it’s easy for students
to lose sight of this conventional wisdom
while they’re studying abroad. Students riding on
public transportation or walking around in
public places should always remain aware of
their surroundings by using common sense practices. Tragic accidents can be
avoided by minimizing simple distractions
such as cellphones and loud headphones. Pickpocketing is a
common occurrence in many countries
around the world. Especially where students
can be easily identified and targeted in
crowded locations. UT students have a history
of being victims of pickpocketing. Here’s a few tips you can
use to minimize your risks. One: limit the amount
of cash or valuables you bring with you
in public places. Two: carry your backpack
on the front of your body when in crowds. And three: always keep
an eye on your personal belongings,
even while you’re in a restaurant or on
public transportation. This also extends to being
aware of your surroundings in crowds and
at public gatherings. Large protests, civil demonstrations
and rallies, may all seem like
exciting environments in a foreign country. However, students should
avoid these events, as they can quickly become
chaotic and hazardous. Terrible accidents,
such as this tragic night club fire in Brazil, can happen at
any time to anyone. Being aware of your
surroundings may be the difference between
avoiding an accident or becoming a victim. Local knowledge,
and understanding the unique characteristics
of your foreign community are key to minimizing
your risks while abroad. Your local study abroad
contacts, as well as professors, host families,
and friends, are a great resource onsite. Knowing cultural norms
in your community, such as acceptable clothing, displays of public affection, and interaction with
local law enforcement, can help you to avoid
attracting unwanted attention. Local contacts can help
students understand which neighborhoods, streets, and modes of transport
are safest after dark. Which areas of town
should be avoided. And how to carry money and
valuables with you safely. Make use of their
expertise and advice. And remember, in regards
to your safety and health, there are no stupid questions. Limiting alcohol consumption
will also help you to remain aware of your
surroundings. Use good common sense,
and make decisions that keep you safe. Students should know
that the majority of all study abroad incidents
also involve alcohol. We call this affect,
“Alcohol Plus.” “Alcohol Plus” being
out alone at night. “Alcohol Plus” a vehicle. “Alcohol Plus” being in
an unfamiliar part of town. “Alcohol Plus” a rowdy
street festival. When negotiating the new
situations that come with a study abroad
experience, students can reduce the
chance of a safety incident by subtracting alcohol
from the equation. Different countries and
regions have different standards regarding
alcohol consumption, so look to locals
for guidance and follow your best judgment, not your impaired judgment. While study abroad will
always be about new, exciting experiences in
foreign countries and cultures, you should always think
about your safety. Accidents can happen to you. By understanding the
culture of safety in your host country,
you can make the most of your time abroad in
a safe and healthy way. We encourage all UT
students to minimize their risks abroad by
paying attention to cultural differences, remaining aware of
foreign surroundings, asking locals for advice, and using good judgment
with alcohol. Have fun, and be safe!

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