It’s easy to get caught up in life abroad — so much so that students often forget about the everyday dangers in their new cities.
During my first year in London, we were briefly warned to be cautious of pickpockets. This, along with the warning that using pepper spray was illegal, was a vital ingredient in the classic recipe of a “be safe” orientation. I never felt paranoid, though. It wasn’t something that was constantly on my mind.
But as a junior in Paris, it’s a totally different story. During orientation, the NYU staff drilled into our heads that pickpockets are roaming the streets. They told us which metro stations to avoid because of the high risk of theft. They told us horror stories about what people have lost in the past — documents, passports, large sums of money. You name it, someone has lost it.
Unfortunately, I got too comfortable during my second semester. I decided to wear leggings and a coat without any zipper pockets. My phone and all of my cards were hastily thrown into a pocket before boarding the tram with my bags full of groceries. The first warning sign should have been the number of people cramming into the tram. Two stops later, when the tram finally emptied enough for me to breathe, I went to grab my phone out of my pocket only to discover it was no longer there. Giving Paris the benefit of the doubt, I thought it had merely fallen out of my pocket. The friend that I was with went back to the original station with me, but my phone wasn’t there. Someone must have taken it out of my pocket before the doors of the tram closed. Thankfully, they didn’t notice the card holder in my pocket.
So, what do you do if your phone is stolen? Android users, I won’t be of much help. I don’t know how to go about locking down the phone. But, for those iPhone users, immediately go to Find My iPhone and put it in lost mode. As soon as it’s connected to internet, the phone will lock, and whoever has it won’t be able to use it. That’s step one.
The next step is to change every single password. I’m not kidding — if you had the account on your phone, change the password — including the one for that old, abandoned Tumblr account. If possible, grab the nearest computer and disconnect the accounts from the phone — Facebook, Twitter, Venmo and any Gmail account. Then, stop your cellular service. In Paris, it was easy for me to go online and request a new SIM card while deactivating my number until I activated the new SIM. Other companies may require you get an entirely different number, but regardless, make sure to get in contact with your phone company as soon as possible. Different companies have different procedures for lost phones/SIM cards.
Then, let your academic center know what’s happened. They can help you write a police report or help you reset your life. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in Paris. There’s not much that the police or NYU could do. Still, it’s best to report it for statistics and to help the academic center warn future students.
The final step is to get a new phone if you can. Call the abroad number for your IT Department and get a code so you can access your NYU accounts — because the Multi-Factor Authentication system makes life impossible without a phone.
Hopefully this doesn’t happen to you, but just in case it does, know that you’re not alone. It may seem like the world is ending for a few days, but it’ll get better. À tout à l’heure mes amis.
Email Kaity Berg at [email protected]