Living Abroad Without A Cellphone

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From experience, living without a mobile phone is freeing. I don’t get distracted from in-person hang-outs because of a text or a phone call. Not only is this respectful of the other person/people, it keeps me engaged and present in conversation.

I’ve lived in Europe for four academic years and have been awful at keeping up with a mobile phone. This is how it goes: I move to a city, buy a cheap pay-as-you-go mobile and then I never top up credit again. Why? It’s not necessarily an inconvenience to add more credit. Any supermarket will gladly be of service. I just don’t want to. When I can call any mobile via Skype for $0.02 a minute, why would I pay £10 for a top up that should last a month but lasts me 15 days?

I have a pay-as-you-go mobile for professional contacts, i.e. the letting agency, job offers, etc. However, social contacts are dealt with via Internet. Of course this has caused problems meeting up with people of the mobile world. You have to schedule the exact time and place in advance for meeting up. Spontaneity is for people with mobiles. If plans change while en route, too bad.

I’ve had a few experiences where a mobile would have been useful. First day in Spain, I had arranged to meet my landlord outside my flat at a specific time via e-mail. Between sending the e-mail in the U.S. and standing outside the door, I did not have access to Internet. So without knowing if she read it, I stood there with my suitcase packed for a year’s worth of schooling and no mobile device, no way of contacting her. Luckily, she turned up before the hour ended and all was well. It’s this type of luck and hope that comes with not having immediate access to people. Hoping things will work out has worked so far. But when they don’t, I usually take the blame for being mobile-less and figure something else out.

That’s to say, while it’s freeing, being mobile-less has its consequences. Its constricting in regards to planning and increases dependence on the Internet. But, obviously, I think its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. Saving money while staying present in social situations is what keeps me from topping up at the till.

Could you do it? TC mark

featured image – pan demin/Shutterstock

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