Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I've watched Taken: Personal Safety in Buenos Aires

 Even before leaving the States I've had a lot of people very concerned about my personal safety while abroad. About 90% of this stems from the Liam Neeson movie Taken while the other 10% is based on factual knowledge. But there is no need to be concerned, I've seen Taken and I promise I'm not that stupid. Plus my host dad basically has Liam's characters job so I should be fine.

Liam in action: Source

But in regards to personal safety in Buenos Aires, believe me I've been informed. Basically everything they have told us since we've been here is how to not get robbed. The majority of it is pretty common sense things, don't talk to suspicious strangers, don't flash around money, keep your belongings close, don't go to bad areas alone, etc. There are some other more unusual things to watch out for like different scams to distract you and steal your money, but for the most part it's the same general safety as in any big city.

I bought this purse because it has a clasp and zipper
The neighborhood I live in and that most of the international students live in is pretty safe. My entire block is well lit and surrounded by small shops and restaurants. The best part about a lot of those small stores is that they usually have a police officer or security guard stationed in them at all times. So despite appearances, I actually feel much safer walking around in my neighborhood alone than I would walking around Kansas City Metro alone.

There are a few very simple things you have to do to avoid being a victim of theft (that's generally the type of crime around here).

  • Carry a bag with a zipper and keep it in front of your body in crowds or on the Subway
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of money, but if you have to just put it in separate places in your bag or pockets. 
  • Keep your phone in your bag when you're not using it. 
  • Know where you're going at night and stay on busy streets, even if it's a longer way around. 
  • Pay attention!! This is the number one way you can help yourself!!
Before coming here, I was afraid that because I'm American I would stick out and become a target more easily. But, the people of Buenos Aires generally look like me. I've been mistaken for a Porteno on multiple different occasions. I only get stared at when I'm talking on the phone, probably because I speak extremely rapid English to my family. Blending in isn't difficult. You just have to look like you know what you're doing, even if you're totally lost. 

I'm so glad I wasn't dissuaded from going abroad by because I was scared. While crime does happen and you should be concerned about going somewhere relatively safe, it shouldn't make your decisions for you. As a female leaving the country alone can be daunting and people will tell you not to do it. But I say go with your instincts and go for it!


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