Unplugged

by Genevieve

Dr. Bilsky told me it was good to be without the Internet for a while, to really appreciate new cities and get to know the culture. I thought leaving my laptop at home would be a good start, but having my iPhone with me constantly would be like a nicotine patch. I could still FaceTime and iMessage, and make international calls when absolutely necessary.

As it turns out, I can only make international calls about 15% of the time. No idea why, and I apologize to all my hosts who can never get in touch with me and worry about me getting lost or kidnapped by Martians. Try not to worry too much. I’ve only been lost for three hours at the most, and the Martians refused to take me because I speak Martian even worse than I speak Dutch.

For iMessaging and FaceTime, well, that’s been pretty difficult too. Antwerp is by far the best city I’ve found with free wifi, but even there, it’s only available about half the time. So mostly I’ve had to learn to survive without the Internet. This must be what it was like when my parents were my age, and the Pony Express was the most reliable form of communication.

I’m so GPS-obsessed at home, that I sort of forgot that maps existed. Therefore, I don’t always remember to grab one when I get to a new city. This is when most of the getting lost happens. I’ve found the best thing to do is walk in around a block repeatedly until people start to recognize me and wonder if I’m deranged. Then I go into a friendly looking business and ask for help. In Arles, a nice lady at a pharmacy even went in the back, googled the address of my hostel, and printed me a little map. It’s better to ask people in businesses, because sometimes locals on the street think its funny to send tourists off in completely wrong directions. My host in Nice told me about some guests of his that were looking for the beach, and received perfect directions from a helpful man on the street–all the way to the police station. If you have to ask someone on the street, ask as many people as possible.

My use of Facebook has been reduced to a messaging service, and extra storage space for photos. Instagram was initially just for the photos I wanted to show my mother, but a few days ago I cracked and friended her on Facebook, just to avoid the painfully slow uploading and editing process on Instagram. There is no Pandora in Europe, and I’m too conservative with battery life to waste energy on Temple Run.

Now that I’m blogging semi-regularly, I’m less nervous about posting Twitter. Before, I barely tweeted at all because I was too nervous people would subtweet about me, saying my posts were moronic and a waste of precious Twitterfeed space. I’ve since learned that most tweets are moronic, and at least mine say ‘Sent from Munich’ at the bottom. However, when I do manage to get on to Twitter, I generally don’t read anything anyone else has posted. Battery life is precious, after all.

I’m about to get even more unplugged, because my hostel in Munich does not have outlets in the dorm. You can only charge things in the reception area, which will be closed by the time I get back from dinner. I’d tell you to stay tuned, but it may not be necessary.

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