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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Expat Diaries: Stranger Danger {A Link Up}

It's time for another edition of the Expat Diaries brought to us by the lovely Chelsea from Lost in Travels, and Rachel from Postcards from Rachel

So far I have talked about Bringing a Piece of Home with you while you travel, and my Fears and Concerns about moving to Korea. This month I wanted to share a story with you and talk about being safe in the area you are traveling/ living in. 

Last Friday, I was on the bus going to work when an older Korean man got onto the bus and sat down right next to me. I thought this was a bit strange because there were only a few people on the bus, and there were plenty of open seats. I quickly brushed this off and continued to look out the window and listen to my music when I noticed something- I could see in the reflection of the window that the older man was staring at me. {again, that's not too weird if you remember my post about staring} But I realized after 5 minutes had gone by that he was still staring at me. 

At first, it was really funny and I was trying not to laugh, but then twenty minutes passed and he would not stop! It was one of those I know you are staring, and you know I know you are staring... but you are still staring... And again I kinda brushed it off because people tend to stare at me here and I've gotten pretty okay with it. The staring happened until I was getting off the bus. {A good 30 minutes later. And it wasn't just staring, but eyes really wide type staring.} 

And that's where it got very weird, a bit confusing, and a tad bit scary. 

I turned to let the man know I needed off, and he nodded his head and got up. I got off the bus, and he followed me off. Okay... I was thinking- maybe this is his stop. I started to walk towards my school, and he grabbed my arm and tried to pull me in the opposite direction of where I was going. Not forcefully, but enough to worry me. 

Not going to lie, I freaked a bit and yanked my arm away and walked away really really fast. 

And that was that. The man never tried to talk to me, so I don't really know what was going on. Maybe he just thought I was lost, and was trying to help. Maybe he was confused. I like to believe it was just a mix up, but there is the possibility that this scenario could have turned out a lot different. 

And that story brings me to my point: 

When you are traveling {either domestically or internationally) you need to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert. 

We need to have plans in case something happens. We have to have backup plans of our backup plans. 

The world is not a perfect and 100% safe place, but that doesn't mean we have to stop traveling. It just means we have to be smart. 

For this expat diary, I wanted to share with you some things that we do to stay as safe as we can: 

1. Always know where your are going and how to get there- I have a bad habit of letting other people do the navigation {i.e. my friend Jenny basically leading me around Europe}, but if I got separated I would be up a creek. I now try really hard to pay attention to the plan and make sure I know what to do just in case. 

2. Know your address and phone number- This might sound like a duh moment, but I will admit I didn't know our address for the first two weeks I was here. Now we have our address written in both Korean and English in our wallets, and on our phones. I also have the cell number of my boss, and the address of my school. 

3. Understand traffic laws- I am talking about both as a pedestrian and as a driver. In the states, especially Hawaii, I feel like you can pretty much stand in the road and wait to cross. Here, not so much. Everyone drives really really close to the sidewalk, so if you are standing in the road- you will be hit! Just be aware of what is acceptable. No one wants to be a pancake. 

4. Be alert- It's easy to get caught up in the sights and sounds of the place you are exploring, but don't forget to take in the other things that are going on around you. If you see something dodgy stay away. If it's a dark alley... probably don't go down it. I think part of being alert means doing your research. Really get to know the area you will be in. And if it is a bit dangerous, read how you can be as safe as you can. 

5. Have an escape plan- I know this sounds drastic, but if something happens what are you going to do. How are you going to get out of the country, or to a safe place? {This could be referring to natural disasters, or government problems.} Matt and I have a plan of what to do just in case. {Rest easy family- we are prepared.} Even if you are just on vacation- you should have a plan. 

I know this all seems depressing, but honestly, as an expat- this is what I've had to deal with. I feel like if I wasn't prepared I would be really irresponsible. And that could lead to us getting in a bad situation. Travelers already have to deal with the stress of plane tickets, and packing, and missing family- we don't need to add the stress of being lost- or scared- or stuck. 

It is always better to be over prepared than under. 

So what are your thoughts on safety? Is there anything you guys do to stay safe? I would love to hear from you! 

*Note: Dear Family that is freaking out about the story you just read, It was in the middle of the day, and there were plenty of people around. I am totally fine! 

Many thanks to Chelsea and Rachel for this wonderful link up! 


  1. I think you covered this well! I was just thinking about how you need to know the concerns in each country. We had to be much more aware of our surroundings, home and car invasion and pick-pocketing in Russia. Pick-pocketing might be all that some do in certain countries, where home invasion might have a higher percentage than somewhere else.
    Educating yourself and acting as if you know what you're doing is so important. Great reminders!! :)

  2. ahhh! i hate these times! korea is by far the safest country i have ever lived in but hat doesn't mean that we shouldn't always be alert and aware of those around us! i'm so sorry this happened!

    1. I really do think Korea is super safe, but I am a firm believer in being aware. We moved from a small town in Hawaii, but that didn't mean bad things didn't happen. Thanks for the linkup!


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