Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Life Abroad Advice/Technical Defunct Rant

Whether you are traveling, studying or living abroad there is one thing that is certain: if you come across a logistical problem, solving it is going to be much harder than you're used to, especially if you are in a country where they speak another language. So yes this is where I tell you a stressful story of mine:

First thing Monday morning when I was finally over my jet lag, ready to work, with more than enough work to do, the Internet mysteriously lost its connection. Luckily Karsten discovered it before he went to work and was able to make the call that would've been impossible for me. But unluckily, it was not a quick fix and I would be without the World Wide Web (God forbid!) until at least the evening unless I chose to venture out into the world alone in search of some Wifi. Doesn't sound too hard right? But suddenly I found myself lost and literally disconnected in a country where I feel that way sometimes anyway. Not that I don't love Berlin, but shlepping my laptop around the city in search of a workspace or at least someone who understands my question is not that fun, nor easy.

First I tried the closest thing in the neighborhood to a Starbucks, English: yes. Wifi: no.  So I popped into a bar that I was told would be good, only to be shooed away (well I think that is what she was getting at, I couldn't understand her, but the gestures that came with the words seemed to say 'we're closed!'), after that I had to go home defeated and curl up with an actual book (God forbid!). Later that evening I was escorted to check my email at a smoke-filled Turkish Internet cafe where I had to ask for the millionth time where the @ is on these German keyboards.

Despite my overreaction that the world might just be over without Gmail and a daily blog entry (and that I was going to get fired!), in the end I am not too scarred and am still employed. We still can't get online, but I am lucky to have a few Berliners who are looking out for me and who also have the Internet, and one in particular who handled with great calmness that earlier said reaction. So I guess my point, other than to just totally vent, is that when you choose someone to spend time with abroad make sure they are a person you know you can deal with problems with and not someone you are going to want to kill when you get lost for the 20th time, order the wrong thing from the menu, or can't figure out a place to check your email.

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