Submitted by Allyce Morino, Global Ambassador in Viterbo, Italy.
One afternoon in my Travel Writing class, we were reading page after page of quotes about traveling, and one really captured my attention:
“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
This quote stuck with me because, in the day and age where technology is EVERYWHERE, being disconnected really isn’t the norm anymore, even while on vacation or while studying abroad.
My boss told me a story about his study abroad experience in London, and how when he wanted to call home, he would have to hunt down a telephone booth, call an operator, and hope his call would go through back home. Today, there’s Skype, Facebook, Twitter, email, cell phones, calling cards, FaceTime, and many more options that keep people connected, even when they are thousands of miles apart. Sometimes, all of these options can make it feel like you never left home, which leads me to debate the question of whether disconnection really does make for the best traveling.
After being in Italy for four weeks now, I have found that, for me, there has been a good middle-ground between being connected and disconnected from life back home. I have used Skype a few times, uploaded photos to Facebook after major trips, and called my boyfriend a few times when I was feeling down. On the other hand, I don’t have the urge to check my Facebook each day, and I am totally behind on what’s going on in politics. Still, I am happy the way things are. I am truly enjoying my time in Italy, and I feel I have a perfect balance of being present in Italy, but still taking care of things that need to be taken care of back home.
I think that for every traveler there is a balance that fits each person perfectly. Some may not want to bring a laptop or cell phone, while others plan weekly Skype dates with their parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, friends, family, co-workers, etc. Some may post photos to Facebook the second they have internet connection, while others may plan to save all of the photos to show when they return home. There is nothing wrong with being either completely connected or having no contact with home at all. The travel experience belongs to the individual. The issue of connectivity is something that every student thinks about before they study abroad, but to each their own. Traveling abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so make the best of it in your own way!
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