understand what's going on around (one)

"What's going on around me" means the things that you can see and hear, and that are happening close to you. People usually talk about understanding, paying attention, or noticing "what's going on around (someone)":

Keiko was just sitting there, reading her book, totally unaware of what was going on around her.

You can't play around when you're driving. You've got to pay attention to what's going on around you.

This phrase appears in these lessons: