Safety first during study abroad

Don’t depend on others to do research for you.

Two days before Christmas, I boarded a plane to Mexico. Although at first I had been worried about my safety, upon landing, I realized I had done my homework and that even though it did not guarantee my safety, I at least knew how to minimize it.
Unfortunately, not all students do their homework. Unfortunately, not all students think it is necessary to know a little bit about the political and social state of the country they are traveling to. Unfortunately, many students travel anyway.
Ashley Bray is one of these students. In her Feb. 8 column, âÄúWhat not to do in Mexico,âÄù Bray critiques her study abroad program and the Learning Abroad Center for not providing her information on âÄúsafety.âÄù
She ends her column by prompting students to ask about information if they do not have it. This is sound advice. But BrayâÄôs column seems to prompt students to ask questions of others, when they really should be asking themselves.
Rather than encourage students to beg their programs for information, they should do a bit of research on their own.
Maybe take a night off from going to local bars, walking home alone at night, or being hungover and take some time to find out some information about where you are traveling to.
Mexico is in a very violent war, and I do not want to take away attention from that. Bray, like me, has the right to be scared, but she also has the right to be informed.
Instead of relying on others to take care of you, students need to take initiative and learn about what they are doing, where they are traveling, how they are putting themselves at risk and how they can protect themselves.
As a student, if you are planning on studying abroad, you should understand that countries are not the same socially and politically. The differences you will encounter are not just in food, drinks and culture, and you should be prepared to handle them.