The Disaster Scale

The moments you share with the people you travel are invaluable. You may get into disagreements, argue about which way to go, which foods to eat, but you also share some of the finest or funniest moments, ones that you’ll remember and cherish forever. One of the moments I’ll never forget took place in Paris. In a hostel. More specifically, on the floor of a hostel room. Eight people crowded around one piece of paper trying to determine the severity of different scenarios, both real and imagined, to create a disaster scale.

disaster scale

Disaster Scale
When to panic…

0.5 Kat slipping down stairs
Hangover, rain, improper gear
2 Almost getting hit by a car, losing key @ Bristol, Primark closed
Almost missing Paris train, failing [classes]
Missing train, sustained group separation
Bedbugs & scabies, food poisoning
[Call parents:]
5.5 Laptop theft
London wallet loss, broke out of Bristol
Mugged, acquired psych disorder/mental breakdown
Losing Erika, not having a place to sleep (in foreign country)
8.5 Breaking non-dominant arm
9 Passport loss, breaking dominant arm
10 Losing others, sustained injury/in-patient hospital, being deported

Sure, some of these are silly – improper gear for rain, places closing early. Some are serious – losing your wallet, losing people while traveling, being deported. All of the things on this list were worries that were on our minds. They may be some that you may have as you travel abroad too. While it is important to remember emergency contact information, such as your program coordinator or your main point of contact abroad, it is also important to remember to let go of some of your worries and have a good time while traveling and studying abroad.

(Thankfully, we never had to actually use this scale during our time abroad…)

If you had to make a disaster scale, what would yours look like?

Smalls, out.



2 thoughts on “The Disaster Scale”

  1. I don’t know if I have a scale but I’ve had my share of “disasters” while studying abroad. I’m currently abroad for the fall term in Paris through UCEAP, living in a small one room studio with a less than responsive and helpful landlord. Two major disasters I have had, 1) having inconsistent and shoddy electricity and 2) having a large framed picture falling and breaking on me (and my visiting friend) the middle of the night. As for my first disaster, the power goes out when I turn the stove on past a certain point (glad I randomly brought a headlamp with me on my trip; turns out to be an excellent tool when having to cook with the lights turned off) and when I turn the heat on to a decent temperature. My absent and absent-minded landlord took more than two months to respond to me about the electricity. Still hasn’t been fixed and I’m leaving at the end of December. My second disaster involved blood and broken glass. I had a friend visiting from England and were sleeping on my futon as normal and all the sudden we are jolted awake screaming. Somehow in my half-asleep state I grabbed part of the broken glass and threw it across the room. Once we realized what had happened we also realized I was bleeding. I had a gnarly cut on my finger (and now a scar) that probably should have been looked at a medical professional. Luckily there were no major injuries because we were under the covers and the frame fell on our bodies not our faces. We had to clean up the glass that was now everywhere because I had thrown it on the tile floor and clean up my finger. It was a bit of a traumatic experience to say the least. I told my landlord about it and all he was concerned about was that I had thrown the cardboard back of his picture frame away with the glass. Even with these two disasters I’ve survived and still love Paris more than ever.

    1. Oh wow, I cannot believe the disasters you’ve encountered in your own place to stay during your time abroad… I’m so glad to hear that you’ve survived and are still loving your time in Paris! Hope your landlord will take care of some of the issues, even if your time there is limited. I’d also love to hear more stories of your time abroad sometime! Or if you’d like to contribute to the website, send us your information through the contribute tab.

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