My daughter is going to be studying abroad in Spain. What are some safety tips I can share with her?


Jessica Sillers, Studied abroad in Alicante, Spain in 2007. Last visited Spain in 2014.

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Congratulations on your daughter's opportunity! I studied abroad in Spain for five months as a college student and had a wonderful experience. Here are a few safety tips: - Spain, like many Western European countries, is generally comparable to similar areas in the US in terms of safety. That said, it's good to practice general vigilance, as you would in an unfamiliar US city. Stay in well-lit, well-populated areas and keep an eye on your surroundings. In busy areas, especially bus or train stations, be mindful for pickpockets, and don't accept rides from strangers. - If your daughter is old enough to drink/go to dance clubs in Spain (18 or older), she may find parties run much later into the night than in the US. It's common for a Spanish club to stay open until 5 or 6 in the morning (or later). She should plan in advance when she goes out so that she knows where to find a taxi to get home safely, and she should avoid drinking with a group of people she doesn't know. Again, similar advice to what would make for a fun--and safe--night out at home. - Spain is infamous for catcalling. Your daughter can expect to hear men say "Guapa" (Beautiful/Cutie) or ask her out for coffee when she's walking around outside. Most comments are harmless, but your daughter should of course feel comfortable refusing any unwanted attention. She can ask her study abroad advisors during orientation for tips to make it clear she does not want to be disturbed. In my case, a scowl and a firm "No me molestas" (Don't bother me) discouraged any guys who seemed too keen to strike up a conversation.

During my time in Spain, I often walked alone and even traveled to other cities unaccompanied. I hope the tips I shared help put both your and your daughter's mind at ease, and I wish her an amazing and safe trip!

Abroad 101, Abroad101

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As with any study abroad destination, common sense and sobriety are keys to safety.

Spain is a country renowned for their nightlife so the best advice relates to the same street smarts for College Avenue back home. If it's stupid is State College, it's stupid in Seville.

Especially at night, don't travel alone, choose a buddy. Even if you're not driving, appoint one in the group to stay sober and be the designated caretaker. Make sure that person has everyone's cell phone numbers and make sure they escort you home.

Make sure you have a cell phone enable with local service, buy a local sim card or a disposable phone for the time abroad. Know the local emergency numbers, the equivalent to 911. Your US phone may not be able to access certain local services, so know that in advance. If you are on a US cell phone data, most will tell you to turn off roaming to save money. That also turns off maps. Get the local coverage plans so all those locator apps will work.

The mobile phones are great, but when out and about, don't get chatty on them. Use phones to communicate as needed, but save the gossip time for when you're back in your room and off the streets. Whooping it up on the phone tends to disturb the peace and draw extra attention to you while at the same time takes away some sense of your surroundings. In crowded places phone activity will also draw attention to you and can identify you as a target.

Speak Spanish. Respect the locals, embrace their culture, try to communicate in Spanish as much as possible. Even if your speech is awkward, most people like it when you try to speak their language and they are much more likely to help you in their native tongue.

Keep away from bulls, even if you have a red cape.

Be respectful of your surroundings, enjoy your time, but do so in moderation. I can't stress this enough, stay sober or at least follow the one drink an hour guidelines.

Jessica Beder, I have studied, lived, and worked abroad

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The above answers have covered a lot of important territory but I have a few tips to add:

I am not sure at what level of Spanish your daughter is at, but even if she has a fairly good command of the language, there are bound to be irregular situations where she will need to communicate and wont have the right words to express herself. I am conversational in Spanish, but that did not help me at the pharmacy a few months back, when I was very sick. I didn't have access to the specific terms to communicate my symptoms and it turned into the least fun game of charades ever.

The best safety advice I can give is, that it's not as much about preventing things from going wrong, because things do go wrong and thats life - it's more about making sure you are going to be fine when they do. The best offense is a good defense, and more things like that.

Herein lies the beauty of THE LIST:

After having lived and traveled to many countries where the language is not native to me, I have learned to plan ahead for these language issues and general life fails. Have her make up a master list of the most important emergency words and phrases in Spanish - such as names of common medications or over the counter drugs, (Ibprofeno) how to ask for medical attention, or how to explain if she has any allergies or special needs. For example, if she has a tendency to get sinus infections in cold weather or has a bad case of shin splints from playing sports, make sure she has anticipated exactly how to explain this to a pharmacist or doctor (or as the case may be with the later, a shoe salesman).

In terms of everyday life, this list should also include how to explain in Spanish that she feels she is uncomfortable, is being followed or is unsafe, and perhaps most important of all - her address (How to pronounce correctly) and how to ask for directions back home. Yes we all have smartphones, but you should never ever rely solely on a phone to get you to your destination or home safely, or assume it will save the day. I cannot stress this enough. Your phone may die, be stolen, or get lost, or just not work right (all of which has happened to me) so you need a backup plan. The list. This trick has saved my life before. In addition to the above, the list should include the names, numbers and locations of the city's police station and hospitals, contact details for her program advisors, and the local 911 number. It may sounds like overkill, but you'd be surprised what panic can do to destroy your ability to communicate in a foreign tongue. Tell her to keep this paper on her at all times.

On another topic, being mindful of pickpockets goes beyond just being aware and staying sharp. Make sure she brings a sturdy/purse bag with her, that closes securely - preferably with a zipper. Bags that have straps across your body are the most secure and she needs to ensure that the bag is always towards her front and not behind her. When walking around the city, she should wear less jewelry and be sure not to flash around anything expensive (her iphone) as it will make her more of a target. If traveling anywhere on her own, she should never listen to music on headphones as this likewise makes her a vulnerable target. The moment she arrives to her housing arrangements, she should take everything valuable out of her bag that she possibly can. This means leaving the passport, credit cards, extra cash, photos of the family dog, and all ID's except the one she needs that night in a special drawer at home. This way, if she is a victim of pickpocketing, it will not be the end of the world. Have her keep a bit of money in a separate pocket of her bag or as my friends and I do here in Buenos Aires, inside of her shoe. This way if anyone steals her wallet, she will still have money to get home.

Last of all, tell her not to talk to homeless people or pet the dogs on the street. You may want to help or offer money, but they are dangerous and if you interact with them they may take you for a target. I am an animal lover and have had to learn the hard way to stay far away from strays.

All in all, it will be a beautiful and life-changing experience and I wish you both the best! Her program will have things very well in control and will be able to aid with any problems she encounters.

Neil Jakson, dissertation writing service

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As soon as i think about it is that How Your Child Can Stay Safe While Studying Abroad. Intitutions and organizations involved with student travel have always sought to protect the health and safety of those participating in international educational activities. In the last few years, this effort has become better co-ordinated and more comprehensive. Affordable dissertation uk

Hanna Spence, my experience

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I am from Europe and live in the US and I can tell you the "year abroad" thing is just a big long very expensive vacation . Students do not go to real college experience. THey go to colleges for foreign students living abroad. No relationship to real European colleges in a foreign language. THAT would be worth it. Of course, it would also mean studying far more than the average american college student is willing to do and probably will have to do part time as a waitress or ace writers freelancer to earn some pocket money. MOst come back speaking marginally better than what they started with. Gap year is much better or enroll in a real college for goodness sake.

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