When studying abroad, one thing you have to consider before leaving is what to do about your cell phone. There are several options like getting a new SIM card, getting a cheap flip-phone, or upgrading your current phone plan. I personally just upgraded my plan, which gave me 2 GB to use abroad. That goes pretty quickly so I have to use these sparingly. In fact, I typically just keep my phone on airplane mode unless I need service to use my GPS or contact someone.
Not having as much access to my phone during the majority of my trip is actually enhancing my time abroad. There’s something about not having the world at your fingertips that makes you feel small – in the best way possible. It causes you to pay attention when you’re walking somewhere so you can get back on your own without pulling out your GPS. It allows you to be more present in each moment- whether that’s conversing with strangers you meet on public transportation or actually being engaged in the conversation with your friends at dinner. It means that when you get to see the Trevi Fountain in Rome, you’re more focused on the beauty of the fountain rather than “Snap-chatting” your friends that you were there. And you can still take pictures for memories!
So no, while actual cell service abroad is not better (because it can definitely be spotty at times), maybe it is better for us. I’m just as guilty as any other millennial for loving screen time. This has been so good for me to have limited data for once. I’m able to be 100% caught up in my new temporary home in Italy.
Cell service is pretty much a necessity when traveling these days. Access to reliable communication both keeps me safe and is helpful. My advice to anyone going abroad would be to keep that little airplane mode button switched on as much as possible. I think your experience will be much more rich because of it.
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