Varsity is one of the biggest changes you’ll ever experience in your life – you’re fresh out school, away from your parents and most likely in a big city. You also don’t have to abide by any rules anymore! There’s nothing more bewildering than this, especially when you’re trying to stay safe in a new city. This list is a compilation of things that you can do to help increase your street savvy in your new environment…

  1. Theft is a big problem in all cities in South Africa, so keep your room locked when you’re not there and lock up your valuables when you leave for the day.
  2. Smash and Grabs’ are also a big problem, and the best way to deal with this is to roll your window down a mere one centimeter – it will make it harder for thieves to break the window…
  3. Taxi’s are sometimes a safe way to get around and they’re very cheap – so ask the second years or anyone else who has been living in the city for a while how safe they are and if you can use them…
  4. If you’re going out, try to go in a relatively large group so you know you won’t get lost! It’s best to keep your phone on you when you’re out so that you can contact your friends if you lose them.
  5. If you’re going to get drunk when you’re out, being in a group of friends is imperative… don’t get left alone at a nightclub – always let your friends know where you are.
  6. Now, don’t be completely paranoid about date rape drugs being slipped into your drinks, but be vigilant to those threats… don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know and don’t leave your drink unattended!
  7. There are taxi services in all cities in South Africa that you can call and arrange a time for them to pick you up, so rather than taking your car or getting into someone else’s car with a drunk driver, catch a taxi home.
  8. Try not to walk around the streets alone and not necessarily only at night – some people are mugged in broad daylight…
  9. Pepper spray, although it may seem slightly over the top is very useful. You can get a small one and fasten it to your keys for your room or your house and be that much more protected.
  10. If you’re at campus alone at night, you are allowed to call campus security to escort you if you are scared; also there are certain ‘safe routes’ that are set up on various university campuses that are patrolled by security guards to help you get home safely.

Paranoia is one thing… and it’s the last thing that should be instilled in you as you head into first year… What is important though, is that you do remain vigilant at all times! Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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