Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash
By Rebecca Isjwara
Since most of us studying abroad would remain in the area for a short span of time, it is unlikely that we would be privileged with the luxury of our own motorcycle or vehicle, and would have to turn to the city’s public transport. Travelling alone on a public transport system might be daunting, especially if you have to do it regularly in a foreign country to commute to campus and/or to make your way around. But fear not—we have your back! Here are some pointers to help ease out your worries on hopping onto the public transport:
1. Know Your Route
If you’re just starting to use your public transport system, grab a pocket map and have it on hand at all times. It would help as well if you check the map beforehand or do a quick route lookup on Google Maps or Citymapper. Doing so would give you a little bit more confidence of knowing where to go, and prevents you from having to ask directions from the public transport staff.
State of confusion might shift your focus to be less alert of your belongings
2. Travel during daylight
If you happen to be in an area that is known for certain incidents, travel during daylight to avoid any mishaps. Not only will you be more comfortable going around when the sun is still out, the likelihood that there are more passengers on the bus or metro would also give you an additional sense of comfort. If you are familiar with the public transport schedule and frequency, you can time your arrival to the station to avoid loitering around deserted stations for too long as well.
3. Keep your valuables in your pockets
Pulling out your phone or another valuable item (such as your wallet) in a bus or metro might attract some unwanted attention, so it is best to keep out of sight by having it stashed in your bag or your pockets. Although it might not foolproof your chances of not having your belongings stolen, keeping your valuables stored will not make you the first target for that day’s robbery.
4. Avoid travelling alone in suspicious areas
In certain situations or districts, avoid commuting alone. If you are pressed to walk a route at night or to take the train at late hours, try to arrange and have a friend to travel and walk with you. Alternatively, you could also stick to crowded areas and avoid that dark and shady shortcut to home. If worse comes to worse and you need to take a cab home, it might be wise to have some change and do so. Although it would be a pricier option than walking back, your safety is more important than being frugal.
Our best advice? Stay alert. Pay attention to your surroundings and be mindful of your belongings. It is second nature for us to put on earphones and blast some music, but it also takes away our focus from the situation that surrounds us. Although it does not harm to read a book or listen to a podcast while commuting, it is worthwhile to slide your bookmark in or pause your podcast in times or situations when you need it most.