Turn It Off And Take It All In
I personally do believe that staying connected while abroad does limit one, to a certain degree, from immersing in the culture and curtail ones experience. I had the amazing opportunity to spend a summer in Costa Rica, volunteering/working on a sea turtle conservation, and traveling all around that beautiful country. While abroad, I choose to turn my phone off and stay completely separated from the United States and technology for the duration of my trip (1 month). I wanted to completely immerse myself within the culture and experiences that Costa Rica had to offer. I didn’t want to be worried about what was going on back in the United States or focus any of my energy on social media platforms to share my experiences. It just so happens that I had one of the most amazing and life changing experiences while abroad while disconnected from technology. Instead of picking which filter to put on a photo, I studied Spanish and interacted with the local community. Instead of checking my Facebook account, I went on nature hikes and played in the ocean.
However, there were other members of my excursion that remained connected and I do feel that it limited their immersion within the Costa Rican culture just a tad. When we were sitting around or driving from place to place, a lot of members choose to check social media sites or post photos of their experience instead of being surrounded by the beauty of Costa Rica. Technology can hinder some aspects of traveling by distracting you from where you are, but it can also enhance it. Technology can be used to take photos and capture beautiful moments. Through the use of technology, individuals can travel in comfort knowing that they are still connected and have some piece of home with them. Members on the Costa Rica trip frequently called home to share personal stories and hear from loved ones. It made them feel comforted knowing that they still had a familiar piece of home with them while living in such a foreign environment.
Technology is powerful and can negatively or positively impact ones journey abroad. It all depends on how the individual chooses to use it.