When I was 19 years old, I spent the Spring semester of my sophomore year at my college’s campus in Rome. For six glorious months, I not only reveled in the Eternal City, but was also strongly encouraged… nay, kicked off of the campus… to explore the far reaches of my EuroRail pass every weekend, break, and holiday. As I said… glorious.
I did all the things a respectable (if not, super nerdy) American liberal arts major would be expected to do while living in Europe on her parents’ dime. I climbed church steeples. I entrenched myself in museums, ruins, and catacombs. I made wishes at fountains. I debated styles of architecture… as if I had any clue. I woke up one morning with a craving for waffles, so my friend Chris and I went to Belgium. Naturally.
Then there were all of the other things I did.
For instance… I have no idea how we even got there. There is a photo of my best friend and I covered in mud and standing in the rain at some Communist rally/rock concert somewhere outside of Rome. Barely legal to vote and certainly not “allowed” to drink in our home country, we took full advantage of being young, dumb, and in Europe. The Communist rally was no exception.
A bit tipsy and completely drenched, we made the super responsible decision to HITCHHIKE back to school in the car of two Italian men named Angelo and… umm, something else. We had them drop us off at the next town over from our campus…(because it was IN the car with that two strange men who we did not know whatsoever that we decided to be cautious. Right!) Then, we walked on the side of a dark country road in the middle of the night to get back to our dorm. It was after hours, so once we arrived, we then had to climb over the metal gate with the spikes and jump off the other side.
It is a miracle of youth and stupidity that my best friend and I are alive and have our own daughters now. When people ask if I would every let my children go to my alma mater and have the same privilege of living in Rome as I did, I think… “Umm, hell no”.
Of course, when I was in college
dinosaurs ruled the Earth cell phones were no quite standard issue and spotty dial-up was accessed only at Internet cafes. What’s broadband? What’s a smartphone? My only contact with my family and then boyfriend were through payphones and calling cards. I sent a post card home from every city I visited, but those arrived long after I departed– off to another Irish pub, Greek nightclub, or German film set. ( That’s another story.) Not much solace, if you ask me.
I am only kidding about letting my kids go off to explore the world one day. My children are quite young at the moment, but I know that I can’t stop them from growing up or screwing up any more than my parents could stop me. At least technology has made it possible to have much more piece-of-mind than my parents probably did while waiting for a random phone call from their belligerent offspring.
Bipper, the company who developed Bipper Kids as a way for parents to track their kids’ mobile usage, has recently introduced the bSafe app. It is an emergency alert button for your smartphone. Although this technology was initially offered as a feature in their mobile tracking service, it has since gained so much popularity among adults that Bipper has spun it off as a stand-alone product.
bSafe is a free app that turns your smartphone into the “ultimate safety device”. With the push of one button, the bSafe app will alert selected contacts that you are in danger and share your location using your phone’s built-in GPS. It’s the ideal companion to anyone who has to walk alone at night, an elderly relative who maybe in danger of falling, or even college kids who should know better than to hitchhike and should have probably just called an RA to come get them from the Communist rally/rock concert… ahem.
Here is a quick step-by-step on how this clever little app works:
You hope that you never have to use an app like this, but it is such a comfort to know that you have it when you do… just in case.
Learn more about Bipper and the bSafe app by going to NeverWalkAlone.com. The app is free to download on Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices through the app stores. Another way is to simply text bSafe to 84145 or enter your phone number on the bSafe site. The link to download the app will be sent directly to you via SMS.
Disclosure: I was compensated to review the bSafe app. The views, options, and irrational fears shared in this post are all my own.