Travel Bug: 4 Tips to Avoid Being Pickpocketed

Travel Bug: 4 Tips to Avoid Being Pickpocketed

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While I was studying abroad in Spain, one of the first bits of advice our program directors gave us was over the topic of pickpocketing. Since Europe is such a travel hub people, especially in big cities, can sometimes make a living out of pickpocketing. At the beginning I was a little scared just from how many times we were told to guard our money, know where things are, etc. Truthfully, the crimes aren’t that bad just as long as you are attentive and aware of your surroundings. I have heard several stories of my friends where they felt they were getting pickpocketed but it was too late, or how someone once tried cutting the bottom of their backpack. The troubling part is that once something is stolen it has probably been on three other people’s hands, and your belongings are long gone (Minus the fact of my friend who ran down his stolen wallet one time!)

To ease the minds of all of you who are thinking of studying abroad, traveling, or just want to be extra careful, these simple steps should keep your money where it belongs. Follow these, and let your mind be at ease while traveling!

1. The Back Rule - Always keep things in your front pockets, and never hang your purse or backpack on a chair in a restaurant or cafe. Make sure your bag is between your legs, and don’t let strangers distract you (particularly out of the window), someone else is probably onto your stuff.

2. Distribution - Don’t have all your key belongings in one place, use a money belt, and never carry all your cash with you. The most praised money belt model is Rick Steves’ Silk Money Belt, from $10 on Amazon. Never carry your passport out with you. Keep a copy instead. If for some reason you are carrying loads of cash, keep it in different places — some in your wallet, some in inside coat pockets, some in your sock, wherever.

3. Be Aware of Your Surroundings - Anytime you are in a crowd, on public transit, an elevator with many people, it is an opportune setting for people to pickpocket. Beware of any strangers approaching you and mock situations. People will distract you while someone else is stealing from you. A standard rule would be “Do not engage, act like you belong.”

4. Double Check and Be Safe! - (No I am not referring to the Aaron Rodger’s Discount Double Check TD celebration). Always have your hands feeling your pockets, holding onto your purse, or have backpacks with locks on the zippers. Also, avoid places that look sketchy or are known for muggings!

I hope this didn’t scare you, but helped you. Just remember these few rules and traveling should be a breeze!

A Language Barrier?

A Language Barrier?

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You could practically fit the whole continent of Europe in the states, and it makes up almost 45 countries, as opposed to 50 states! This is hard to grasp especially when thinking about traveling over spring break and on weekends. Driving to Ohio from Wisconsin would be like visiting Portugal for the weekend, and flying to Los Angeles would be like flying all the way to London. Just to show you how diverse Europe is take a look at how many languages they speak, in addition to Spain alone!

There are a total of 230 different languages/dialects in Europe. So basically this would be like every state in the United States have roughly four languages or dialects. Sheesh! Here is only a brief summary of only the Romance languages commonly encountered in Europe.

  • Catalan is official in Andorra; co-official in the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencian Community (as Valencian) and Balearic Islands.
  • French is official in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Switzerland and the Channel Islands. It is also official in Canada, in many African countries and in overseas departments and territories of France.
  • Italian is official in Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City and Istria (in Croatia and Slovenia).
  • Latin is usually classified as an Italic language of which the Romance languages are a subgroup. It is extinct as a spoken language, but it is widely used as a liturgical language by the Roman Catholic Churchand studied in many educational institutions.
  • Leonese is recognized in Castile and León (Spain).
  • Portuguese is official in Portugal. It is also official in Brazil and several former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Eastern Asia.
  • Romanian is official in Romania, Moldova (as Moldovan), and Vojvodina (Serbia).
  • Romansh is an official language of Switzerland.
  • Sardinian is co-official in the Sardinia Autonomous Region, of Italy. It is also spoken by Sardinian diaspora. It is considered the most conservative of the Romance languages in terms of phonology.
  • Sicilian is spoken primarily in Sicily, Italy. With its dialects, spoken in Southern Calabria and Southern-east Apulia, it is referred also as Extreme-Southern Italian language group.
  • Spanish (also termed Castilian) is official in Spain. It is also official in most Latin American countries with the notable exception of Brazil.

Of all the 230 languages in all of Europe, Spain alone shares its own five dialects. Aranese, co-official in the Pyrenean comarca of the Aran Valley is spoken in north-western Catalonia. Basque, is co-official in in the Basque Country and Navarre and the only non-Romance language in mainland Spain. Catalan, co-official in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and, as a distinct variant (Valencian), is spoken in the Valencian Community. Lastly, Galician is also spoken and co-official in Galicia. As you can see, Spain and all of Europe can create many language barrier problems, especially for study abroad students like me! So far, no problems, crossing my fingers…

Study Abroad, Travel Often – Getting Lost Will Help You Find Yourself

Study Abroad, Travel Often – Getting Lost Will Help You Find Yourself

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A study abroad experience is truly an adventure, one where you are exposed to an unknown area but where you can ultimately find yourself. The decision of going abroad is a challenge, but being immersed in a totally different culture is something I could not pass up. Mark Twain said it best. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I hope to not only discover and learn many new things about a foreign place, but also to discover new things about myself and what my true purpose really is. This, along with many other reasons, are why I want to study abroad in Alicante, Spain.

Taking the opportunity to study overseas will definitely help me broaden my horizons. I anticipate meeting many new people and creating relationships that will last for a long time. I also want to explore a language and culture that I have been studying ever since middle school. You can only learn so much by practicing speaking and reading about cultural activities. Being able to put all these things into an actual experience will be second to none. Going abroad will also challenge me to travel on a budget and be able to effectively live on my own. I hope to become even more independent as my spring semester progresses in Spain.

Alicante is a Mediterranean port city in the southeastern part of Spain, which has a sunny climate, beautiful beaches, tall mountains and a rich culture and nightlife. I plan on swimming, surfing, sailing and enjoying the four-mile-long beach of San Juan, which is considered one of the finest in all of Spain. One thing I cannot wait to experience are the many festivals that will be going on in Spain such as Carnaval in Barcelona, Fallas de San Jose in Valencia, La Feria de Abril in Sevilla and Cruces de Mayo in Grenada. This is the one thing I look forward to the most … experiencing the richness and taste of real Spanish culture.

Overall, I have been waiting for a study abroad experience for some time, and I cannot wait to fly into Spain. There are many things I will learn from the experience, and hope to grow personally. I also look forward to taking interesting courses that can apply right to my major. I do not want to be disappointed in the things that I have not done, so it is time to explore. My brother recently shared with me an article with the 50 most inspiring travel quotes of all time. Here are some of my favorite quotes, and I can’t believe that in about only one month I will be in the air flying to Spain!

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” -Lao Tzu

‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” -St. Augustine

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“Less is more: the art of voluntary poverty – an anthology of ancient and modern voices in praise of simplicity. This adventure is truly an exercise in simplifying modern life.”

“I don’t worry so much about the destination, I prefer to enjoy the journey and see what we discover together along the way.”

“Travel is the only investment with guaranteed returns. Count on it.”

“He went into the wilderness not primarily to ponder nature or the world at large but, rather, to explore the inner country of his own soul.”

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” -Mark Jenkins

The New Guy

The New Guy

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If you are reading this, thanks! I appreciate anyone that takes the time to read my blog and everyone’s blog. If you don’t already know, I am an athletic training major, wrestler, student ambassador, Preview and Orientation guide, member of SAAC and the Athletic Training Club and I still get the recommended 8 hours sleep (usually). Oh yeah, and I play intramurals.

I was born and raised in Lyndhurst, which is about 25 minutes east of Cleveland. I have 3 siblings – Kanani is 31, Derek is 25 and Layla is 17. I also have 2 nephews named Juni and TJ. Although I’ve lived in the same city my entire life, I still travel nearly every year.  I have family in Florida, California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon.  I visit them when it is convenient, and my friend just got a job in Los Angeles, where he works for Joke Productions. I actually visited him this summer. I love to travel, yet I continue to stay in Ohio and at Mount Union.  I don’t what it is about Mount Union, but it’s my kind of place. It is welcoming and nature loving, which is good since I was born on Earth Day (April 22).

I went to Charles F. Brush High School, where I played trombone in the band, soccer, wrestling and I even played rugby during my senior year. Sports have always been a part of my life and they continue to be at Mount Union. Poetry and writing make their way into my life occasionally too. For more than a year, I wrote a poem every day.  It was a new way for me to express myself that I’ve never felt before.  It’s probably the same with blogging as I am still having a conversation with myself except I let people read this and not my poems.

Now that you know nearly every major thing about my life, continue on with your life until my next blog.  I will make my blogs as interesting, random and easy to read as I can.  One last thing… if you see me on campus, say “Hi.” It always makes my day better and hopefully my giant smile will make yours better too.

Memorable Memorial Day

Memorable Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is here and it seems that everyone is gearing up for a party of some sort or traveling to attend one. I will be traveling out of state to the west for a graduation in Michigan. My cousin will be entering his last summer before college and my whole family is looking forward to celebrating the day with our relatives. In that regard, I hope everyone traveling this weekend gets to and from safely and quickly.

What are you all, our lovely subset of readers, doing for this Memorial Day? Any great parades or parties you plan on attending? Leave a comment below and the best comment or story will be featured in my next post as a follow up to this weekend. Party on and be sure to thank a veteran or someone you know who serves in our military. Have a good one!