Ashleigh Mavros is a sophomore studying journalism with a Spanish minor. She is currently in Merida, Mexico for winter quarter.
Think of the instances when you’re sitting at home and log on your computer to start homework, and think you’re going to take a quick second just to check notifications on Facebook and suddenly two hours later you realize you’ve been sucked into the dark hole of social media and the internet. Imagine this happening while studying abroad in a foreign country; it’s ten times worse.
Don’t get me wrong, having internet access does have its benefits; easy to keep in touch with family and friends, looking up directions for restaurants and stores, and connecting to our study abroad group Facebook page to make plans.
I sometimes wish I didn’t have internet at my home here in Mexico. Since I have so much more free time, it’s easy to get into the habit of automatically connecting to the internet when I get back to my room. However, it kills me to think of how many hours I’ve wasted away sitting on my computer when I could have been out exploring the city. I made it my goal while in Mexico to venture into the city every day and do something; I don’t want to get back to the U.S. and believe I missed out on so many opportunities because I was hung up on technology.
A turning point when I realized just how strongly technology influences students even when in a foreign country is our first weekend trip to Playa Del Carmen. I was with a group checking into an eclectic hostel with people from all over the world walking through, and as I looked around every single person had their face buried to their iPods or phones trying to connect to the Wi-Fi. How could you really take in and experience this unique moment when you’re just worried about finding an internet connection?
While in a foreign country there is always something to go do or see; most people would kill for three months in another country. When you return to the US your best memories aren’t going to be when you skyped your best friend or putt together boards on pinterest, but all the times you stepped away from technology and truly took in the city and the experiences.