Europe – Tanyaporn Wansom (2006)

Tanyaporn Wansom is a 2002 graduate of Swarthmore College, now studying medicine at the University of Michigan. Tanya received a $1500 scholarship from Sara’s Wish Foundation so that she could participate in the Global Health Fellows Program (a health policy internship program) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Here are Tanyaporn’s travel safety tips:

Although Europe is generally safe, if you’re traveling alone on a train, try to sit near other young women traveling alone – they’ll likely be happy that you sat down in their compartment/area rather than somebody else. Talk to a conductor if someone is bothering you.

Stay in well-lit areas while you’re waiting for a train (or other public mode of transportation). If you have a long time to wait for a train, try reading a book at a cafeteria/public restaurant rather than waiting at the platform

You often get asked for your passport if you are traveling in Europe since you’re crossing borders often. Keep copies and important information somewhere safe in case you lose your passport.

When staying in hostels, men often come and sleep in ‘all-women’s’ bunk rooms at night. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, splurge on a more private room, as it may be hard to notify hostel staff late at night.

Register with the US embassy wherever you are if you’re going to be abroad for some time (It’s easy to do on their website). By doing this, you also get emails from the local consulate/embassy about State Dept warnings as well as local events (like 4th of July celebrations) going on around town.

If you don’t have a cell phone, keep calling cards with you at all times. It’s good to have a credit card in case you get into an emergency situation so that you can call who you need to from an international phone.

If you’re going to be abroad for any significant amount of time, get a cell phone. It’s cheap to buy a SIM card and you can pay-as-you-go. Although most cell phones from the US don’t work abroad, most cell phones from abroad work everywhere (I used a cheap phone I had previously from Thailand in Geneva ).

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