If you usually enjoy the luxury of having free unlimited Internet in your campus dorm, you might need to prepare yourself for change while studying abroad. For me, this was my struggle once I arrived at the dorms I am assigned to during my semester abroad at TU Dortmund in Germany.
When I arrived here the first day (which was a Friday), I was so eager to call my family, but unfortunately there was no Wi-Fi in my dorm. It was already 10 p.m., and therefore I could not call anyone to address the Internet issue in our dorms that night or the whole weekend. The following day I learned from my roommate that I would have to wait until Tuesday to sign my contract and then go look for a cable so I can get LAN for my computer. However, even after I did all of that, a little sign appeared on my computer screen informing me that I wasn’t getting any Internet, and therefore I was unable to talk to my family, post a deep quote on Facebook about how life was unfair to me, or upload my “memeable” pictures.
“Internet Kaputt” is a reference to the German word “kaputt” which means broken, and that my roommate came up with to describe our Internet situation to both German and foreign students.
I had to learn the hard way that life was still possible even if Internet was not available in my room and although data was insufficient on my phone. So here are five tips on how to survive your semester (or for my case the first week) abroad in Germany without Internet.
1. Football is big in Germany.
I was blessed with a nice view from my window of the Signal Iduna park, the largest stadium in Germany, and home stadium to one of the biggest teams here (Borussia Dortmund or BVB). It is true that the experience of watching the match inside the stadium is amazing, but since I cannot afford it at that moment, you can always go for a drink with friends at a bar and watch the game there.
2. Traveling around the North Rhine-Westphalia state is free!
It’s true, when you are enrolled in a university in the region, you get a semester card valid for all the trains and buses around all cities of the state. You can cover nearly 34,100 square km for free. Sometimes, your ticket may even allow you to cross borders. In my case, I was able to visit a Dutch city called Venlo.
3. What’s better than food?
The best thing about studying abroad is that you get to know people from different cultures. One thing I can say, introducing yourself to other students’ cultures and thoughts is much worthier of your time than checking random stories on Instagram or Snapchat.
Organizing a little dinner or even a “goûter” (French for tea time/afternoon snack) to show your home country’s original is a great way to connect with others and try all kinds of different kind of dishes from all over.
4. Postcards are more appreciated than online messages.
If you really care about your loved ones, you should send them more than just messages on social media. Postcards are always a nice gesture to let someone know that you are thinking of them during your journey away. Go around, explore the touristic places, and keep an eye out for a nicely designed postcard so you can choose the perfect one for the people you love.
5. Discover the local history.
The best way to learn about a place is visiting it, not just Wikipedia. For example, I visited Cologne and learned about the cathedral there. This landmark is the tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world, has survived the horrors of war (particularly World War II), and has a lot to offer in terms of both historical information and emotional connection to all the events that it went through.
Cologne Cathedral helped me to overcome my obsession with social media, but I am sure that there are many monuments around you that can make you forget your Internet struggles, too.
The Internet has truly become a big part of our lives today. It definitely helps us in keeping connections with everything and everyone that matter to us, as it gives us the chance to record and share our happiest and most enjoyable moments, but it surely deprives us from looking away from the screen and exploring the beauty of the world around us. It was truly a huge struggle that I couldn’t get my Internet connection fixed as soon as I arrived, but it is always nice to know that my life doesn’t depend on it that much.
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