I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland one year ago with the Boston University Internship Program.
This was the first time I left the country to travel without my family. I went there not knowing anyone: not in my program or in the country, for that matter. So, of course, in the beginning, (meaning the first week or so) I was constantly on my phone. I was sending pictures or texts / Facetiming and giving all of my closest “people” back home rapid updates of my life on the Emerald Isle, (you know, so they knew I wasn’t dead and so I could brag a little). However, to say that my use of communication technology hindered my trip or my abroad experience in any way would be a lie. This is probably due to 3 reasons:
- I couldn’t access communication technology. Idecided against purchasing an international chip for my Iphone, so my “phone” was more like an “iTouch”…in that I didn’t have a data plan so it only worked if I was connected to wifi. I had wifi in my dorm, on campus, on the bus (which was pretty cool), or in a cafe or establishment that had free wifi access. That was it. Even if I wanted to be scrolling through Instagram, texting/calling my friends, or using Google Maps (this was a big bummer), I couldn’t.
- I was 8 hours ahead. So, the brief window of time that both I and my friends were awake and available AND I just so happened to be in a space where I could use wifi — that was when I was “disconnected from my experience”.
- Communication technology motivated me to document my trip. I’m really bad at remembering to take pictures. (I’m sort of an in-the-moment sort of gal). But, knowing that I have family and friends on social media that knew I was visiting 4 countries during my spring break… that sort of motivated me to not only take them, but post and share them. Now, even if something happens to my phone or computer, those pictures are now “stored” on my Instagram and Facebook.