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8 replies
Asian girl travelling solo
travellingshrimp
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Hey,

How would I fare as a petite Asian female travelling abroad in Europe…. solo? I am 24 but look young, like college age. Am I going to stick out much? I don’t mind sticking out, but am I going to be hassled or targeted because of some presupposed ideas that Asians are gullible and vulnerable, and me being female could also add to that “victim” quality? I doubt that will happen but… just to be sure.

When I was in the UK recently I met an Italian guy and he told me he was surprised to see how well-dressed, or rather “fashion conscious” I was because all the Chinese people he’d ever seen in Italy were… recent immigrants and not focussed on such things. So I have noticed a definite disparity in how Asians are viewed over there as opposed to here in North America.

Thanks!

oldlady
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I don’t think you’ll “stick out” in any major city. Lots of Asians live, work and study in Europe. Many more visit as tourists, although those tend to travel in packs. I would not worry about any more hassle than any other petite, solo female.

Take extra precautions with your valuables. Any solo traveler is an easier target because if you get distracted by something, no one else will be looking out for you. Use a money belt, don’t flash cash, cards or valuable small electronics. Look confident and like you know where you’re going.

Read some of the old posts here for more tips and insight. Many guidebooks (the Let’s Go series, for example) have special sections for solo female travelers.

travellingshrimp
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I only ask this because I had a friend who was recently mugged, TWICE, while working abroad in Italy teaching English. She was so distraught she returned home to Canada cutting her trip short by half a year. I can only wonder if it had to do with her ethnicity making people think she was an easy target.

Thanks for your reply!

oldlady
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I have never read a report here or on numerous other travel sites of a female tourist being mugged in Europe — not that it doesn’t happen. Obviously your friend had a serious problem. I’ve read one other report of a female jogging in the early morning getting hassled enough by some guys that she felt extremely threatened. She managed to get away, but was traumatized. You are probably safer in Europe than in your home town and certainly safer than you’d be in any North American city. Pickpockets and pursesnatchers are an issue in Europe (actually anywhere there are tourists) but muggings are comparatively rare. I really don’t think ethnicity would be an issue.

luv_the_beach
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Shrimp,

So, some guy from Italy told you he had never seen a well-dressed Asian person before. That doesn’t mean that this is a common belief in Italy.

You’re jumping to several conclusions here:

  1. that what one guy told you opinion represents a widespread belief in Italy and Europe
  2. that your friend was mugged because she is Asian
  3. that your friend’s mugger was a local
  4. that most Europeans don’t distinguish between Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese, etc

To answer these conclusions:

I can’t say that there is a common stereotype of people of East Asian descent in Europe. Chinese immigrants in Southern Europe are a growing demographic, but they’re still very few; there are far more Filipinos in Italy, mostly women working domestic positions, but also a growing number of Filipino men in manual labour jobs. I would say that Japanese are regarded as photo-happy tourists that are bussed around, and I would say that Europeans (or at least Southern Europeans) are more likely to regard Chinese this way too. In Britain, the term “Asian” is much more likely to refer to someone of South Asian descent (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc), not East Asian.

It’s certainly possible that she may have been a target, not for being Asian, but just for being a foreigner. We certainly don’t know for sure, as we don’t know all the circumstances. Was she in a deserted area at a very late hour? Did she twice find herself in such a risky situation? Just some things going through my head. I really think it’s a coincidence, and not because she is Asian. Although being a foreigner could certainly make someone a target, regardless of ethnicity. While such occurences in Europe are rare, I have a white male American friend that was mugged in Paris in the 1980s (in an area that was bordering-seedy at that time). So, I doubt your friend was targetted for being Asian.

Lastly, do not assume that the mugger was a local who was raised within an Italian social context and held Italian worldviews. The mugger could very well have been a foreigner, and a perceived spike in crime in Italy is indeed being blamed on an influx of foreigners, whether or not it’s fair. We’re talking about a country where doors could be left unlocked a generation ago, and now locals are seeing a spike in crime coinciding with a huge influx of illegal immigrants. This is certainly possible, given the long journeys these people make to get to Europe, only to find that it’s not as peachy-easy as they thought, and some may find themselves in sitautions where they have to steal to survive. And yes, a foreigner looking to commit a crime can easily single out other foreigners from the locals.


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Nidhi
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hey shrimp..

I am also as asian (indian) travellin alone to europe around july onwards…frankly there have been a lot of posts about muggin, theft and generally not being safe in a few places..

@ oldlady – if you can throw some light on which places to avoid or not to go to

I am travellin to rome, florence, venice, barcelona, paris, nice and amsterdam

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oldlady
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Avoid any place the “feels” wrong. Pursesnatchers and pickpockets tend to work where there are crowds and where people are distracted (like cafes, internet cafes, photo ops) and not paying attention to their belongings. Use a money belt for all cash (except a few euros for today’s needs) credit and ATM cards and keep track of your stuff.

Muggers like isolated situations, so avoid anyplace (particularly after dark) where there aren’t other people around.

Don’t flash lots of cash, cards or expensive electronic stuff.

mims
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Hola. So…I am Asian, and female, and young, and I look younger. Fact is, depending on where you are, you will attract attention, whether you want it or not. In most major cities, there are loads of Asians living/working/studying already so it shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m living in a small city in Spain at the moment, and I know this to be true. I won’t deny it, it does get quite annoying because after so many times a day, you would think people would stop staring at you. Though, they take a good look at you, and then they get on with their lives.

However, as I am also traveling alone this summer, I don’t think you should be thinking about being targeted as “vulnerable” or “gullible” because you are Asian. Just be alert and careful because, well, you are traveling alone. Don’t do something/go anywhere if it makes you uncomfortable.

Que tengas un buen viaje!

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Europe is far safer than North America, but given the huge number of tourists that converge on the continent in the summer, there are groups/gangs that do target tourists. Why? Cuz they know you’re carrying easy things to steal like cameras. That you may be carrying large sums of money. If they are caught by police, you are highly unlikley to waste time pressing charges or returning to testify at their trial. Use a bank card and only take out as much money as you’ll need for the day, wear a money belt or pouch around your neck with passport, etc. and employ some common sense and you’ll be okay.

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