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One Month In Italy, Zero Cellphone

If you ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you that I have my phone in hand 24/7. I wouldn’t say that I’m addicted to it (except I am), but I depend on it a lot. Then again, who doesn’t? Phones are incredibly important in our daily life and they’ve become necessary items.

This summer I went to Italy as part of the course “Lengua y Cultura Italiana”. Paying for a phone out of your living area can be expensive. So I, a broke student who was already paying for a trip and trying to spend the least amount of money possible (so I could spend on the trip), decided that it was an unnecessary waste of money. After all, there’s Wi-Fi and Whatsapp, right? However, I didn’t account for the fact that not everywhere I went I had Wi-Fi.

Six hours of a difference doesn’t seem like much, but when you don’t have internet access, it can become a problem. You see, I had to communicate with my family and friends to let them know that I was alive. My only method of communication was through Whatsapp, but I only had Wi-Fi from my dorm. However, I was rarely there. Most of the time I was at the University for Foreigners of Siena (Università per Stranieri di Siena), going on tour around Italy, eating somewhere or just walking around Siena. This left me with limited time to be connected to the Internet and less time to communicate with my loved ones, who were awake when I was going to sleep and vice-versa. While it was difficult, it wasn’t impossible. Sure, some days I couldn’t speak to them, but I always got to send at least an “I’m alive” text to them.

One of the reasons that my phone looks like it’s part of my hand, is that I’m always reading stuff. Let me tell you, it’s really difficult to read when you don’t have the Internet to change the chapter. So, long hours on trains and buses became longer without it. My entertainment depended on the songs that I had downloaded on Spotify and the Crime Junkie Podcast. Without an Internet connection, my phone was just a glorified radio and camera. Apart from hearing the same 20 songs and the podcast, I got to talk to people. The bus and train are a lot more fun when you have crazy new friends to talk to. So while I did miss reading and being online, I didn’t need it as much as I would have thought.

The hardest part of not having a cellphone was not being able to see what was happening in Puerto Rico. I had no internet when people started protesting and demanding Ricky Rosselló resign his position. Between the six hours of difference and not having access to the internet for most of the day, I would get anxious to see what had happened. The whole group did their best to be up to date with everything that was happening, and those who did have a phone always where happy to give updates. But it still wasn’t the same as getting everything on time and being in Puerto Rico during that historic moment.

Towards the end of the trip, my charger broke, so I got to use my cellphone even less than I was already using it. I depended on my friends to lend me their chargers when they could so I could keep taking pictures of everything. But just like with the map or the podcast, I adapted to limiting my use of it.

I’m not going to lie, sometimes it was scary being without a phone in an unknown country. But it wasn’t the worst that could have happened. I had tons of fun, I learned a lot and made some friends. It was one of the best experiences of my life and not having my phone didn’t affect it. I would say that it made it better. Sure, I got lost but I also had a heck of a good time. And now I can say that I went to Italy, that I survived a whole month without using my phone and that if I did it, so can you. In bocca al Lupo!

Alana is currently in her fifth year, studying Comparative Literature in the UPR Río Piedras Campus. She loves books, superheroes and mythology. Will sing any song that she knows (even if she can't sing to save her life) and is always tired. She dreams with someday writing a book.
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