Studying abroad is an invaluable experience, and anyone who has the opportunity to participate is very lucky. Living in another country on your own allows you to learn a lot about yourself and about how you want to contribute to the world.

Those who make the best of the experience have a great deal of fun studying abroad. Without a doubt, having a good time is an integral part of the study abroad experience; however, it is also important to be cautious to avoid unnecessary tragedy. Here are 5 tips that are helping me enjoy my time abroad and stay safe at the same time:

  1. Look both ways before crossing the road. Pedestrians do not have right of way everywhere. I always get a little anxious before I cross a street because sometimes drivers actually speed up when they spot a pedestrian, it’s a cultural difference you’ll get used to! 
  2. Don’t wear flashy jewelry out on the town. It’s a good way to avoid abad experience.  Being a foreigner makes you vulnerable in any country, and showing off your nice jewelry just adds to that.
  3. At the bar, always keep your eyes on your drink. If someone else buys you a drink, make sure the bartender hands it directly to you after he makes it. I go out at least three times a week, so this rule is very important to me. I’ll admit that I’ve had strangers buy me drinks, but I am always mindful of the fact that people often have ulterior motives. Even if a person seems trustworthy, never let your drink out of your sight because anyone could put something in it.
  4. Do not walk alone at night, especially if you are female. I have only walked alone at night once, but we were a group of about 10 people. If you are not in a large group that includes a few guys, you are better off taking a taxi.
  5. If you get lost walking, get in an official taxi and have the driver take you to your destination, your home or your university. I got lost as I was walking home from my volunteer site, even though it is very close to my home and university. After realizing it may take me some time to find my way, I chose to take a taxi home because I was alone and the sun was beginning to set. The taxi ride was very short; it only costed about $1 USD. Of course, I could have walked, but I would have put myself at risk if I was still out once it got dark.

These tips are applicable to any part of the world. Costa Rica is actually one of the safest countries in Latin America, but of course there’s unfortunate events happening everyday.  Just be careful while you enjoy your time here, you’ll have a great experience and leave with unforgettable memories!


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