“Tienes wifi?” is often uttered amongst study abroad students in cafés and restaurants – especially in the beginning of the semester.
We’re hooked. We’re dependent. We never disconnect.
But now, we’re in Barcelona — or wherever.
And being abroad can mean data plans are expensive and phones that aren’t even compatible for European services. At first it’s a little scary.
Applications like HopStop, Google Maps, and other navigation services help us combat unfamiliar (or perhaps even familiar) public transportation in the states. But without our smartphones, we’re taken back a few years in time and are lost when it comes to planning.
We’re responsible for looking up directions, meals and activities in advance — pulling up information on the spot simply isn’t an option.
“At first it was hard. I’m used to using the map on my iPhone,” said Kristine Gutshall, a student studying abroad in Florence, Italy.
“Now if we need to find somewhere we’ll look at it online, find it on the map or ask people,” Gutshall said.
Aside from navigation systems, students are also accustomed to utilizing other apps to communicate with people at any second of every day. Abroad, texts and calls can be the only functions on temporary phones.
“It’s super basic,” Gutshall said about the phone she uses in Florence, “I don’t use [texting] as much as at home because it costs more.”
At home, social media apps on hand keep college students posted with news every second – both trivial and serious. Constant e-mail connectivity keeps them organized with classes and clubs. There are apps for nearly every daily encounter.
Not being connected to the internet may have it’s social perks, though. According to a recent USA TODAY article, disconnecting from your phone is beneficial for your work performance and job happiness.
And there really is a sort of serenity to not being hooked up to the Internet all the time. Students are forced to have more face-to-face communication with each other and those in the local population.
We’re forced to be social in real life, not just on social media all the time. We’re forced to wander cities and see things that maybe we’d miss out on if we had internet access all the time. We’re forced to rid our addictions and just enjoy the study abroad experience.
“When I was bored, I used to just go on Facebook on my phone,” Gutshall said. “It’s refreshing not having to be on the Internet all the time.”
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