Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Reflections at the halfway mark

Time September 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

September 11, 2013

67 days.

67 days I’ve been in my new home of Costa Rica.

67 days until I go back home the U-S-of-A.

I have a  lot of mixed feelings about that revelation, some of them clichés but all genuine.

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Three days without Internet

Time September 9th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This weekend, I spent 85 hours without access to the Internet, media, news, the outside world or electronic stimulation.

No phone. No Internet. No Kindle. No laptop. No news. No Facebook. No Twitter. No television. No iPod. No Skype. No email.

And boy was it a great feeling.

To be fair, I made a few exceptions:

  • I watched the (painfully horrendous) U.S. vs. Costa Rica World Cup qualifier on TV at a bar.
  • I used my digital camera to take some awesome pictures of the frogs, butterflies, beetles, snakes, spiders, and more (all to come on this blog as soon as my ecology-studying friend can help me classify them all).
  • I checked my local phone, which has no Internet capability, only to find there was not a bar of signal to be found, as I tried to get in contact with group mates on a class project due soon after the trip. I also used that phone as an alarm clock.
  • I heard snippets of music from friends’ iPods as we all hung out in the cabin.

I’m confident none of these detracted from my ability to enjoy my weekend, nor did it distract from everything that was happening all around me.

Before I left, I wrote on my blog why I was looking forward to the isolation:

I’m always connected. To my phone. To email. To Facebook. To Twitter. To digital conversations far and wide, public and private (who am I kidding, it’s all public).

This weekend, that changes.

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t go an hour and a half without itching to turn my phone, tap in the code and scroll through every information feed I can get my hands on. In the States, where Internet is ubiquitous, my phone battery is dead by 2:30 p.m. Here in Costa Rica, Wi-Fi is still ubiquitous enough that I’m connected most of the day.

As someone who lives online, I need to learn how to disconnect, for my personal sanity and for the sake of truly enjoying life without pixels.

Really, the timing of this retreat from technology is perfect:

  • A trip to a country without my data plan has been a struggle in and of itself. I’m constantly looking for Wi-Fi signal and occasionally missing out on the country I should be exploring. I haven’t had the opportunity to fully unplug. This will hopefully be the opportunity I need to, so to speak, rip the band-aid off.
  • Having just left MediaShift today, tomorrow will be the first time in more than three years (over 1100 days) that I will not be replying constantly to emails from editors and sources.
  • Mid-terms are coming up, but my preparation can take place entirely offline with the use of a very large notebook. Any paper writing and presentation creation can and should take place after reading all the material anyway. If anything, staying disconnected will let me get work done faster. 
  • Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins tonight and ends Thursday night. Shabbat begins only 24 hours after that on Friday night and ends Saturday night. Both are holidays that should be reserved for contemplation and relaxation. For the first time in a long time, I’ll be able to do just that.

It’s been years since the last time I’ve gone without Internet access for more than 24 hours, especially with my 3-year-old dependence on iPhone, which I only half-jokingly refer to as my third arm and an extension of my body.

I’m hoping this trip will give me the perspective to understand the place of technology in my life so that I may live life, offline and on, to its
fullest extent.

When I arrived, I realized just how little of a choice I had here. There was no Wi-Fi nor phone service of any kind. If I had had my iPhone or laptop, they would have been next to useless.

Nevertheless, even remaining away from keyboards and screens did wonders for me. I was definitely more present and able to get more reading done for classes (an unavoidable phenomenon known as midterms precluded me from leaving work at home).

I didn’t really miss technology, strangely enough. It was freeing to not be checking online every few minutes. I was able to push a lot of work-related (as well as less urgent) matters out of my mind.

I was (gasp!) relaxed. No stress, no anxiety, no impatience. Just being.

I’m hoping I can repeat this exercise every once a while once I get back Stateside and even while I’m here. I’ll be better for it.


Follow the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.


Why I quit my internship

Time August 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I was the strange kid in the study abroad group simultaneously completing an American internship.

I worked at nights when I had finished (…maybe…) my homework and was in no danger of missing out on cultural experiences or, more importantly, time with my host family.

Not anymore. As of Thursday, I’ve given my two-week notice.
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Classes, Homework, Presentations, and FUN

Time March 16th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As you all know classes started which means being busy with homework and stuff. The usual academic responsibilities. Nevertheless, this does not mean I can’t find time to do other fun things. Actually, in my Egyptology course I had to present on Merimda Ben Salam, El Badari, Dier Tasa, and Naqada I II and III, pottery at the Cairo Museum. I had been to the Cairo Museum twice before, but this time it was a completely different experience for several reasons. First of all I entered through a different entrance than everyone else because I was following prof. Hassan who has special connections at the museum. Through this special entrance I got to see some artifacts that were not out for display. Following the secret passage way, my presentation started. This was even more fun not because it went super well and my professor said I did excellent, but because when I was giving my presentation funny things happened. 1)Tourist at the museum who understood English were gathering around me as if I was a tour guide, 2) Since everyone mistakes me for an Egyptian, people were confused as to why I was speaking English, 3) People were smiling at me after realizing I was giving a presentation for class. As you can see it was a fun experience, even more so because I knew details about Egyptian history that I had no previous knowledge of.

Apart from the museum, I visited Cairo Stadium and watched Al-Ahly play against Talaea El-Gaish (???) which was an experience in itself because of the fans. Also I went to see “My Name is Khan” at City Stars. I recommend everyone to see this film. To say the least there wasn’t a dry eye in the cinema. But of course the fun does not stop with the end of the movie, after it finished I got to meet AFROTO one of the players of Al-Ahly I had seen playing at Cairo Stadium.