Streetwise

mindhamok streetwise

Author: Lily Smith

Streetwise

Streetwise, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “having the knowledge and experience that is needed to deal with the difficulties and dangers of life in a big city”  Well mindhamok are here to equip you with that knowledge folks!

Whether you’re studying abroad in a city, working in the big smoke, or perhaps you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, knowing how to be streetwise is important for all of us. Many of us live in cities, work in them, or visit them with a paintbrush and a pot of red paint, so we want to make sure you feel safe in them! Look, we can’t promise you that there aren’t ill intended people about, but we want to give you some confidence when frequenting the big ol’ cities in the world. So listen up…

Cities are vibrant, diverse and representative of food, drink, identities and culture from all over the world. How lucky are we that we get to spend time in places like this? Each city is completely unique (kind of like people) and there are people from all walks of life… foods to quench every craving and fun at every turn. But, cities also come with their own set of dangers. Now we aren’t trying to scare you but it is important to #BeStreetwise. There are things we can do, night and day, to give ourselves that extra bit of confidence to ensure we are safe, and in the case that we aren’t, well, we will know how to respond.

Let’s talk about culture…

Whether it’s called a culture war, or identity politics or wokeness gone mad, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to navigate our identities against a backdrop of extremes. Firstly,

mindhamok want you to know that whoever you are is ok. But, we know that it doesn’t always feel ok to be ourselves in certain cities around the world, and it’s important to acknowledge this too. Whether it’s racism, sexism, transphobia or another type of prejudice, each culture has a different relationship with certain identities, and it’s always a stark reminder that in some places we aren’t as far forward as we’d like to be. In many cities across Europe, hate crimes have risen a little, and this isn’t to scare you or tell you to tone it down in terms of how you express yourself (we believe in full and complete self-expression!) but we want to give you the facts.

In many cases, hate crimes happen because people… suck. Sometimes just being a woman is enough to rile someone up and put your safety at risk, and there’s not much we can do about who we are to our core! Existing in itself can sometimes be enough to make people angry, whether it’s racism or transphobia, the rich tapestries of our identities can be confusing to other people. We don’t mean to be doom and gloom, but we’re here to tell you we get it. mindhamok are here to help you navigate the complex experience of being away from home and not always being accepted for who you are.

In terms of identities, we’ve got a range of resources to help you navigate this while abroad.

Being safe at night is crucial, and sadly, this is more poignant if you’re a woman, a person of colour or from the LGBTQ+ community. Check out our blog on safety at night to learn how to keep yourself safe. We’ve got a podcast on sexual harassment and safety as a student and gender-based violence.

We know that being part of the LGBTQ+ community can come with its own set of challenges, particularly in today’s political climate. Queerness is different for everybody so check out some inspirational stories to give you a boost.

If you’re struggling with your identity, or perhaps you’ve had an experience while abroad that has left you wanting to talk, then remember mindhamok members can access counselling wherever you are in the world. You can request a therapist from the LGBTQ+ community, or a therapist of colour, and any other specific experiences you’d like to discuss. We’re all unique, as are the cities we visit and the people we encounter and the cultures we become a part of (if only for a semester). mindhamok are here for you.

streetwise at mindhamok

Now for the practical stuff…

How to #BeStreetwise

Awareness is key

We spend a lot of time looking down, but rule number 1 of being streetwise, is looking up. I don’t mean walking and looking at the sky… (although we definitely encourage taking in your

surroundings to benefit your mental health and wellbeing) in a busy city you’d be crashing into people left right and center! Not to mention some serious neck ache. Ouch! No, I mean take in what’s around you. Do you feel safe? If it’s dark, are there streetlights? If not, is there another way to walk home? Who’s around you? If you’re not feeling safe in this group of people, then you can politely leave. Have you checked the number plate of your Uber to make sure it’s the right car? It’s important in a city, particularly one we aren’t familiar with, to have our wits about us, night and day.

Cool, calm & collected

Cool as a cucumber. Chill as a…. chili? (I just made that one up). Whatever you want to call it, the vibe we give off is powerful. By communicating the message that we are confident, calm and composed, then people will believe as much. When in doubt, stand tall, look forward and walk with purpose.

Thank God for guts!

We’re all lucky enough to have intuition, so use it! You know that funny little feeling in your tummy? Or when something just feels off? Well listen to that. Cities can be busy and intense places, so if a conversation feels odd, or a side road doesn’t feel right and it’s a little too dark for your liking, then trust that instinct and find a different route, or kindly leave a conversation. It may be nothing, but we can never be over cautious when it comes to being safe.

And finally, the small print…

  • Let people know where you are, share your live location. We’ve been blessed with FindMyFriends and live locations on Whatsapp.
  • Look out for each other. If someone needs your help, then be a good friend. You don’t know when you may need that support back!
  • Know the local culture. What’s acceptable in the city you’re in?
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes up and around and not glued to your phone.
  • Know your local emergency numbers. There’s a whole list here.

Cities are wonderful and exciting places. Vibrant and full of life. mindhamok are here to help you enjoy cities by being safe, vigilant and streetwise.

When it doubt, #BeStreetwise.

Check out our blog on safety at night for more information on being streetwise at night.

Some people are just bad actors and there’s nothing we can do to avoid encountering them and potentially having a bad experience. If something does happen, and if you want to talk about, or even if you don’t want to talk but perhaps feel it could help, then mindhamok are here for you, always. With counselling in your host city available, a helpline and a live chat, whatever you need, we’ve got it. Spending time in cities can be a rollercoaster, ups and downs and everything in between.

So let’s put our mind in a hammock and #BeStreetwise.

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More To Explore

safety at night

Safety at night (the small print!)

Now look, mindhamok aren’t trying to be the fun police, but safety is important & as we venture into new cities with new customs, cultures and rules, it’s crucial to have our wits about us.

Connection in the 21st century

If you’re on the gram or tiktok, then you’ll know what it’s like to be inundated with content full of engagement rings, trips to Paris and montages of happy couples. Bleugh! It’s intense, we get it, and not always easy on the ol’ mental health.