Staying Safe while Abroad ~ Week 5

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Hola Amigos,

Five weeks in and I can confidently say that Valencia has become my second home! I am already planning for my return to this city in the future.

This week I was able to take a weekend trip to Barcelona! For the Barcelona trip, our program from Florida was paired up with another study abroad program. I was able to meet students from all across the United States since their program was not from just one specific school like ours is.

Before I knew that I wanted to study abroad in Spain, I knew that I always wanted to travel to Barcelona. I had heard so much about the beautiful sights like Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia, not to mention that I loved “The Cheetah Girls 2” as much as the next 9-year-old girl. While my vacation in Barcelona was incredible, it also taught me a lot about how to stay safe while I am abroad.

When we arrived in Barcelona, we were warned by our tour guides about pickpockets. They mentioned that pickpocketing is extremely common in Barcelona and that many students on previous tours had been robbed. Unfortunately, we were able to see how real this threat was during our trip because one of the students from my program had her phone stolen out of her bag.

Attached to the back of her phone were her credit card, her ID, and her room key. This was a scary experience for all of us as it became clear how real the pickpocketing in Barcelona was. While it was an awful experience, it taught us all a lot about remaining aware and alert while in a new place with potential dangers. 

There were a few measures I took to keep my belongings safe while in Barcelona. Something that I did before my study abroad trip was borrow a bag from my aunt that was made particularly for travelling safely. The strap of the bag is unable to be cut easily and the zippers have locks on them that can secure your bag from being opened against your will.

I used this bag on my Barcelona trip and did not have any issues with the security of my belongings. A conscious choice that I made while in Barcelona was to not have my phone or wallet out as often. I would only take my phone out occasionally to take a picture or look up directions, but right after I would put my phone back in my bag and secure the zipper. I never took my wallet out of my bag and instead pulled money out as I needed it. While I am accustomed to leaving my phone in my back pocket, I got out of the habit of doing this quickly to protect myself from theft. 

While all of this can seem like a lot and can discourage some from wanting to travel to a place like Barcelona, I recommend to not let the potential dangers prevent you from travelling. Before the trip, I was worried that I would remain too anxious to actually have an enjoyable and relaxing trip.

This was mostly because I had no experience with travelling prior to this trip and I was fearful of the unknown. The most important lesson that I learned from this experience is that it is possible to remain alert and safe while still enjoying your trip and having fun. I did not let the fear overtake my whole experience, but rather, made conscious efforts to remain aware of my surroundings while exploring the city.

There is a quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth that helped me with this anxiety: “Present fears are less than horrible imaginings”. This quote reminded me to relax and reassure myself that I am safe. My trip to Barcelona was so enlightening and awe-inspiring. I am glad that I was able to get over my initial fears and truly experience the wonders of this beautiful city. 

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post! Tune in next week to hear about the final week of my program. I will leave you with some pictures from my Barcelona trip!

My friends and I channeling the Cheetah Girls at Parc Güell!
Parc Güell was so beautiful.
The Passion façade of the Sagrada Familia.
The inside of the Sagrada Familia was breath-taking!
The gelato was so delicious!

Hasta luego,