“Hej” from Sollentuna, Sweden! This first week has been a hectic one filled with more than enough eye-opening sights and experiences already. Although I am studying in the city of Stockholm, our housing is located approximately 40 minutes (by train and metro) north of the city, giving us the opportunity to commute and step into the shoes of the average Swede. There are so many things I could talk about from this week that have amazed and impressed me, but I am actually going to discuss a topic that might scare some, safety.
In our Social Psychology class here, we recently discussed the idea of the “bystander effect,” in which, for example, a bystander might not report a crime being committed in front of their face because they assume the many other people around them will report it themselves. When it is human nature to adhere to this bystander effect, and every single bystander happens to do the same thing and not report the crime, you are left with an unreported criminal on the streets and sometimes even injured parties (as a side note, you see the link below for a prime example of this effect). This relates to safety abroad because many listen to the basic rules advisors tell them about going out but often have the mindset of “it would never happen to me, though,” almost an adaptation of the bystander effect. After a fun, but concerning, night with friends, I am here to tell you “it” can, and more than likely, will happen to you at some point and am going to give you three tips I find most important for both being abroad and even at home in the States.
1) Go out in groups…the larger the better.
-Although this is probably the most cliche sounding rule, it is definitely one of the most important. Groups allow you to appear more powerful and resistant to whoever might be out there trying to harm one or more of you. They also enable you to form smaller social groups within the larger group. Additionally, larger groups allow a way for you and others to split up, if desired, and still be safe with your smaller groups. Being surrounded by friends cannot only make your night much more fun but is more than necessary to keep you and others safe.
2) If drinking, always watch the bartender pour your drink…GUYS AND GIRLS!
-The typical rule is for women to watch their drinks being poured to avoid being drugged, as people often target women often seen as weaker and less able to resist. Although this is definitely a very important rule for girls, guys also need to be on the look out! Not only should they look out for themselves but also as a second set of eyes for the girls, and vice versa. In today’s world, where terrible things are committed so often, you should always watch your drink….no matter how much fun you’re having!
3) Even inside clubs, bars, etc., try to stay in the vicinity of your groups and friends.
-As the night progresses, it is very easy to lose track of drinks, friends, and safety concerns. But in reality, getting to the place of interest is the easiest and safest part. What happens inside these venues can be the dangerous part. As you are with your large and/or smaller groups in whatever venue you happen to be, I want to stress how important it is to ALWAYS keep and eye on your friends. If one person decides to get some air or even go to the bathroom, someone should always keep themselves within eye distance of the person. This could easily be the most important rule, as “lone wolves” are often targeted by those looking to do harm, and if the person is intoxicated, it can make them even more of a target. Keeping within eye distance of your friend(s) allows them to be much more safe and can often diffuse situations before they even occur.
On a side note from all of this scary and serious safety talk, here is a beautiful picture from the hills of Skansen!