miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2015

La falta de conexión

As I left the Chicago O’Hare Airport, I knew that would be one of the last times I would be able to access most of the functions of my cell phone. Until I could get a Spanish phone or plan, I would be restricted to WiFi. I figured free WiFi would be fairly easy to find: cafes, bars, my school, at my Señora’s house… Well, I was wrong. My Señora is the ONLY host mom who doesn’t have WiFi in her house. Claro que sí. Indeed, we had access to WiFi at the school, but that is a 20 minute walk from my apartment. Most restaurants and cafes don’t have free WiFi, though a few do. The closest free WiFi my roommates and I could encounter was a 6 minute walk to the local McDonalds at the train station... McGreat. THANKFULLY, we didn’t have to buy anything when we wanted to use it! Boy, that would have been counter-productive to wanting to be healthier! We later found out that our Señora’s daughter, who lived two flights down, has WiFi, and her children, Andrea and Victor, invited us over and gave us the password. Unfortunately, the signal doesn’t reach up to our apartment, but if we stand by the door, we can get enough of a signal to connect and send out a message!

While this was better than walking to McDonald’s, I’m not always at my house or the school, so a phone plan is essential for, not just access to social media, but safety in general. In accordance with Murphy’s Law, all things that can go wrong will. For me, this means my phone decided that it wasn’t going to maintain a battery life that was worth anything. Literally, after a full charge (that would take 6-8 hours), it would die within 4-5 hours. Not very functional or safe, eh? Well, because of Customs, I couldn’t exactly have a new phone shipped to me. I would have to fill out a ridiculous amount of paperwork and pay tons of fees and taxes in order to get any kind of technology shipped to me in Seville. Fortunately, I remembered I had a couple friends who are from the Netherlands and were flying from Chicago to the Netherlands on January 18th. If I could get my new phone to them, they could bring it with them, and I could go visit them and get my new phone. What a fool proof plan, right?! I wouldn’t have been able to mail my phone to them though, but then my sister Nikki pointed out that my other sister, Kim, was flying to Costa Rica on the 18th for vacation with her family! Fool proof, I tell you!

So, Kim took it with her to Chicago and they dropped it off at the hotel my friends were staying at, my friends then took it with them to the Netherlands, I planned a trip to Amsterdam (see previous post about Amsterdam), and my friend Kevin came into the city to pass it off to me. At last, I could connect with people again as I upgraded from my old Droid DNA to a Motorola Droid Turbo! Surprisingly, phone plans can be fairly cheap in Europe. I have 100 minutes/texts within Spain and 1.6GB of data for only €20 a month. I know most of you are probably thinking, “how on Earth does he survive with barely any minutes or texts?!,” but most Europeans use WhatsApp to connect with one another, and, thanks to Facebook Messenger, I can easily message (and even call!) anyone who doesn’t have WhatsApp, which just runs off my data plan. If I’m just sending messages, it’s not a very data-intensive process, though, since we don’t have WiFi in our house, I definitely have to ration my usage so I don’t burn through it all quickly! There’s definitely no streaming of YouTube videos, downloading of apps, streaming Pandora, or any other intensive data operations going on unless I’ve found WiFi! If only SnapChat was less data-intensive, I’d be set!

It is kind of sad how connected we are to technology, and I’ve definitely learned to live without being constantly connected, but I miss being able to just hop on my phone and use it whenever I want without having to turn off and on my data and not having the ability to call home because it’s an international call. What’s even more ridiculous is that, if I travel two hours west to Portugal, my phone doesn’t work anymore because I’m in another country. Imagine if you lived in Wisconsin and if you went to Iowa or Illinois your phone wouldn’t work anymore because you were in another country. How ridiculous is that?! I just can’t believe there isn’t a European Union plan, since everything else is so inter-connected and there are no “borders” anymore. Alas, I’ll hop off my soap-box. If anyone wants to be able to message me on WhatsApp, my Spanish number is +34 666 77 20 37 (+34 is the country code)!

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