Study Abroad Horror Stories

I know I usually don't focus on the bad things that could happen when you go study abroad but it is important for me to acknowledge that things do happen. Today in my Commercial French class we were talking about cultural differences and some study abroad horror stories. Most of the people in my class are international business major and my professor was the head of the IB study abroad program for 9 years so he has a fair share of problems that he's had to resolve.
 For minor problems he mentioned the whole sex issue because some students do go crazy in their study abroad city. This goes for both girls and guys! According to one of the IB majors during their pre-departure orientation, the head of the program showed a slide show of all the babies that we conceived during her time as the head of the program. The number according to my classmate was ridiculous. Although pregnancy can easily be avoided by condoms or birth control, I guess some people just get caught in the moment to take precautions or they are "sure" that getting pregnant will somehow never happen to them. Pregnancy isn't the only thing you should be thinking about, consider all the STD that are out there! My professor shared a story of a girl that apparently was having too much fun with a bunch of French guys and contracted an STD from one of them. The girl didn't know she had one but one day got extremely sick that she collapsed in her room, luckily her roommate found her even though she was unconscious and she was taken to the hospital. I know during my pre-departure orientation people took the whole sex thing as a joke because of how often we heard "remember to wear protection" but the truth of the matter is that it should be taken seriously because it's a problem that happens time and time again.

Another study abroad problem stems from the lack of knowledge about cultural differences. My professor mentioned a problem that he came across in Cameroon. Apparently some students were doing an internship in Cameroon and were placed to live with a family (kind of like an au-pair). Well in Cameroon rooms aren't exactly private, there are no locks and the kids in the house can enter and leave as they please. That proved to be a problem because when the students woke up they found that all their money and some of their belongings were missing. The students immediately blamed the children for stealing their possessions but instead of doing that they should have contacted their internship program or have talked to the head of the household calmly to resolve their issue. The act of blaming the kids just caused the parents to get defensive and caused a minor scar between the family (who had worked with the program for years) and the students.
Source: Injustice in Perugia
Another case where cultural differences caused a huge problem can be seen in the infamous Amanda Knox case. If you don't know about Amanda Knox I advise you to become familiar with the story but for those that don't know I'll quickly run through the story. Amanda Knox was an American student studying in Perugia, Italy that was wrongly convicted of murdering British exchange student, Meredith Kercher. Kercher and Knox lived with two Italian women in Perugia during their time in Italy. Things were going well at first, both Kercher and Knox got an Italian boyfriends and the life as a study abroad student was good until the day that Kercher was found dead. Kercher was found dead on the floor of her bedroom half dressed and with stab wounds to the throat. Knox and her boyfriend were arrested and convicted after the body was found by the Italian police. According to Italian law, Knox would not be considered guilty until the verdict was confirmed by higher courts. Knox served 3 years in an Italian prison but she faced her fair share of struggles in the court room and in prison. One things that study abroad students should know are basic laws of the country that you're going to be studying in. While I hope that no student will go through what Knox had to endure, by knowing your rights and the laws maybe something like this wouldn't had happened. Know the laws, don't talk to authorities without an attorney or translator, and contact the American embassy and/or your study abroad program in case anything happens.
Source: SDSU News Center
The final story is about a fellow SDSU student that initially went missing in Madrid  (this event happened a semester before I left to Paris). Austin Bice was a 22 year-old business student studying abroad in Madrid for the spring 2011 semester. Bice, like me, was a student that was so passionate about studying abroad and his new home city that he even started a blog like myself. When the word got out about his disappearance students and teachers at SDSU were just torn apart. I remember the campus had a very somber mood for a couple of days while people were trying to figure out what had happened to him. Many thought he was kidnapped or murdered but once I found out that he had been partying my guess was that he had fallen into the river. My parents thought I was crazy for thinking that but it is exactly what happened. One night Bice and his friends decided to go out in Madrid. They all were drinking and Bice was refused to go into a club so his friends went in but Bice decided to walk alone back to their apartment. Well he lost his balance and fell into the Manzanares River where he ultimately drowned and died. The reason why this became a tragedy was that it could have been easily prevented if one of his friends had decided to walk him to the apartment and perhaps have taken care of him. This is a scenario that could easily happen in Paris with the Seine running across the city. People would like to think that nothing will happen but the fact of the matter is that it could and you need to be cautious.

To run through some of my main points...
  • Be smart when it comes to having sex. Use protection and don't get carried away while you're abroad.
  • Become familiar with foreign law.
  • Know your rights in the foreign country as well as important contact information to your nearest American Embassy and your study abroad program.
  • If you go out and you plan to drink, NEVER go back home alone.
  • And for friends like Austin Bice's friends, NEVER let someone that you see is intoxicated go back alone. It is better for you to miss out on a night's fun than have one of your friends die or get injured.
 I know that study abroad can be fun but it is important to always remain cautious and alert.

Hope you enjoyed the blog post and if you have any questions, comments, or more horror stories to share feel free to post them below.

1 comment:

  1. Study Overseas get best price quotes from Overseas Education Consultants in India