jeudi 30 juin 2011

Staying Safe Abroad: Drink and think responsibly

Allegra having a few drinks with friends on Halloween
At Easy Languages we take your safety abroad very seriously. That's why we have partnered with organizations in the industry like the Student Youth and Travel Association to promote the importance of being fully prepared for a trip abroad. In all honesty the scariest part of traveling abroad isn't the unknown, it's the radical change of environment. Not being able to understand what passers-by are saying or what advertisements mean can be disconcerting and unnerving. While we can't make those feelings go away, we can help you be prepared for the typical curve balls that might get thrown your way. In this first in a series of installments on staying safe abroad we're going to cover safe practices for drinking alcohol safely and responsibly while abroad, but many of these tips apply no matter where you live. Parents I suggest you make your kids read this!

Do not end up like this guy!
For young adults preparing to make the exciting jump into the international community, grabbing that first legal sip of beer is often a top priority. When I visited France after graduating high school, going "bar hopping" was a top priority of mine and I had a blast. It was 2006 the year of the World Cup and some classmates and I had just been given the OK to go grab a beer from a local pub. We zeroed in on a pub called "La Neptune" in Tours, France on the night of the big match between France and Brazil - the previous Cup's champion. It was a small place, but beers were on special, only €1.50 a glass during the game. Needless to say, we had a blast legally drinking some beers and enjoying the atmosphere of the intense, chaotic French national pride that filled the bar. After a close match France took the win 1-0.

For parents preparing to let their kids leave the metaphoric "nest," the lower drinking age can be a cause for concern. As we enter into the next decade we are facing the first generation of parents in American history that had to wait until the age of 21 to drink. While this law was originally enacted in the United States in attempt to curtail alcohol abuse among teenagers, the law has also had the unintended effect of misconstruing many the facts around alcohol use and abuse. Parents and prospective international students alike should get brushed up on their knowledge of alcohol. Inevitably everyone will have a glass of wine or a pint of beer during their experience abroad, but by reading these tips below and clicking on the links provided, you can rest assured that you are well prepared for taking that first sip responsibly and most importantly safely. A lot of this may seem like common sense, but a joyous atmosphere can often times throw common sense out the window. 

Wherever you are in the world you are subject to that country's laws and regulations. Research theses laws ahead of your trip so you know what you can and can not do.

Without futher adieu, here are some things to keep in mind when you go out on the town for a night:

Flickr user: letsgoeverywhere
  • Sip slowly: Here is a link where you can calculate your blood alcohol level with the number of drinks you have had in a night over a certain period of time. What the calculator shows is that it is dangerous to drink a lot in a short period of time. 
  • That being said, stick to a pace that YOU are comfortable with. Even though you just had 3 shots and feel fine, give it some time. It will hit you.
  • Always go out with friends that you know and trust.
  • "We go out together, we go home together." Let this be your Golden Rule.
  • Always keep a taxi number handy: Just in case you need to get home. It will save you a lot of time and excess worrying about how to get home.
  • If you go out with a group of friends, discuss the idea of having someone be the designated driver for the night before you go to the first bar.
  • Be careful when drinking carbonated beverages with alcohol or carbonated alcohol preparations because this mixture increases the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, while diluting alcohol with water slows the absorption.
  • Never go home by yourself, unless it is with a reliable taxi service.
  • Set a safe limit of how many drinks you are going to have in a night, and stick to that number.
  • Never leave your drink unattended. Someone meaning to do you harm may slip something into your drink. Stay alert and pay attention to your drink and who you talk to at the bar.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach: By eating high-protein or carbohyrate rich foods like cheeses and meats or pasta, you'll avoid getting too drunk too quickly. These foods can slow down the absorption rate so that the alcohol will not hit your system all at once. 
  • Know the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
  • Know the safe parts of the city and the regions to avoid before going out.
  • Know the emergency number for the police and ambulance in the country. In Europe 112 works in most countries.
  • Know how to say some basic words in the native tongue of the country you are in such as help or Cheers!
**Keep in mind that in many European countries, it is illegal to carry Mace.**

Have tips you'd like to see added to this list feel free to drop us message in the comments below or email us.

Photos: Flickr user I Woke Up Today and Allegra Hall's own photos