When you are studying abroad as an Asian Student, you should be having the most enjoyable, memorable and rewarding experiences of your life. Whilst it’s important to have fun and make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime-experience, it is also very important to take the correct steps to keep yourself safe. By international standards, the UK is a very safe place to visit. It has a very multicultural society and is very open to different ways of life. However, just like anywhere else in the world there are sometimes bad people, which is why it is important to be aware of what is going on around you. In this article, I will be talking you through some tips on staying safe in the UK. Some of these tips on being safe might seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget them when they are having fun. Here are my 12 tips on how to stay safe at university:
1. Be responsible for yourself
You can’t always rely on people to look after you. University is a time in your life when you have to start looking after yourself. So make sure your phone is always charged so if you ever get lost or need help, you are able to contact someone. Before you go out divide your money up so you have spending money to buy drinks and food, and money for a taxi to get home. Staying safe in the UK is easier in a group. So when you go out to a pub or club try not to wander off on your own, stay with your friends. Lastly, find out where your nearest licensed taxi rank is, or pre-book yourself a taxi home before you go out. If you are unsure where to get a taxi or who to call speak to your students’ union, they will have a list of trustworthy companies.
2. Insure your possessions
One of the most common international student problems I see are students who have been victims of theft and haven’t insured their possessions. If something expensive of yours gets stolen and you are insured, you won’t have to pay a ridiculous amount of money to have your possessions replaced.
3. Lock your house properly
Following on from the previous student safety tip, make sure your house is secure. You are very unlikely to have your possessions stolen if your house is locked up and secure. A lot of burglaries happen when people leave their windows open or forget to lock their doors. Use common sense and make sure you keep valuable, expensive possessions out of sight. And don’t leave any spare keys hidden around your front door, because they can be easily found.
4. Be aware of your surroundings
It’s important to be aware of your surroundings especially in busy places like bars, clubs, public transport stations and cafes. Pickpockets and thieves thrive in busy locations like these. So keep your possessions close to you, don’t leave your bag anywhere, and keep your bag and pockets zipped. Try to avoid keeping things in your back pocket, because this is a very easy target for a thief.
5. Be confident
Living in a different country can be a bit scary at times, but try and look as confident as you can, even if you’re not. It’s a good idea to research your travel routes in advance, so you know where you’re going, and so you are not constantly getting your phone out or stopping to read a map. All of these things will make you look a lot less vulnerable to a potential thief.
6. Call 999
If you are ever in danger and in need of emergency assistance call 999 on any phone and you will be connected to the appropriate services. If you need help and it doesn’t require an emergency response, for example: to report a crime that has already happened or your property has been damaged, then call 101. You should only call 999 if you are in any immediate danger.
7. Keep your personal details safe
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to identity fraud. Always be suspicious of anyone contacting you asking for your personal details, account details or passwords. Never give this information out unless you are 100% certain of their identity and you have contacted them yourself. Keep any personal records like your drivers’ licence and bank details in a safe place, and ensure any old receipts, bank details and bank cards are destroyed properly. With bank cards, you need to cut through the chip and magnetic strip. If for any reason you lose your bank card, contact your bank straight away so they can freeze your account.
8. Be extra careful with money
When taking cash out of a cash machine always ensure the machine hasn’t been tampered with. Be aware of your surroundings before taking out money, check there’s no one crowding around you or looking over your shoulder. Try taking cash out in the day if possible, and avoid carrying large amounts of money on you, only take out what you need.
If you are shopping online check the website for a padlock, or unbroken key icon. If a website is secure it will say ‘https:’ at the beginning of the web address, if you don’t see this at the beginning of a websites URL stop any transactions immediately.
9. Drink responsibly
The effects of alcohol can sometimes make us all a little bit forgetful and a bit more likely to do things we wouldn’t normally do. We are more likely to lose our belongings and find ourselves in vulnerable situations. So before you go out drinking make sure you have eaten, and drink plenty of water throughout the night. Always keep your drink on you, and never leave it unattended. Drinks can sometimes get spiked with drugs, so it’s important to always have it where you can see it, and to never accept one from a stranger. It’s very common for Asian Students to lose or misplace belongings during a night out. So avoid taking anything valuable out with you like your passport, and try not to good too drunk when you go out.
10. Don’t wear too many designer clothes
Try to avoid wearing clothes and carrying accessories that are clearly designer. It could make you a really easy target and attract attention to possible thieves.
11. Keep your passport safe
Your passport is your most important possession. Ensure you make copies of this as well as your BRP before travelling. Keep copies of these and upload them onto different devices, just in case anything were to happen and any of your belongings were lost or stolen. This way you will have extra copies available. Try to avoid taking your passport out with you, and leave it in a safe place.
12. Look after your car or bike
On average a bicycle is stolen every minute in the UK, and it’s not easy to find the culprit who stole your bike. So it’s worth investing in a good lock. Leave your bike in busy, well-lit areas and lock your bike to something that won’t move. It’s important to lock your bike at home too if you leave it in your garden.
If you have a car make sure you take out any valuables when leaving it. Most CD players are detachable, so make sure you store it out of sight, in a safe place like your glove box.