Stray dogs and wireless Internet: musings of a student in Sudamérica


If I'm being honest, it was the dogs that really got my attention. That first morning of my trip, I was riding in a van with five Chilean strangers, and all I could think about was the massive amount of dogs on the streets. Mostly I wondered if I would be allowed to pet them. Could I take dogs back to the United States? And how many?
I sat in the van mulling over my own thoughts because, well, I had nothing else better to do. My beloved iPhone was rendered useless before I left the United States, and I had yet to purchase a local phone. 
As I grew continually more nervous, I reminded myself to trust the driver to get me to my new home safely. However, the moment he started asking me about beaches, bikinis and Budweiser's, any confidence I once had flew out the window. ¡Chau!
It suddenly dawned on me that in every sense of the phrase, I was on my own.
I had forgotten what it was like to be without any form of communication, and rightfully so, as the last time I was without a working phone was in the seventh grade. I expected to have my tech-savvy, electronically-centered world rocked in Chile.
But as it turned out, Chilean homes have Wi-Fi. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I didn't think I'd be that lucky.
And here I was, fretting over when and how I would Skype with my nephew and keep my mother's worries at bay. Now, thanks to Steve Jobs and his crew at Apple, Inc., I can text (for free) and even voice message if I have a wireless connection. Believe me, I was thrilled, but part of me wonders what it would be like to actually disconnect.
I spent today writing a quirky lifestyle story for an online newspaper within what could be considered a shed. My toes are frozen, since central heating is not a part of the Chilean lifestyle, and I can hear those dogs going crazy down the street. But the seven of us interns are all working diligently on our laptops, making phone calls from smart phones and searching the web to research breaking stories.
Although I'm thousands of miles away, it feels like I didn't even leave, at least as far as the world of technology and communication is concerned. If I can pick up a Wi-Fi signal, I'm in constant contact with my loved ones.
Because I have Wi-Fi at my new house, you can rightfully assume that my iPhone is in my back pocket at all times when I'm home, ready for the next iMessage.
For the first few days, I was very frustrated with my lack of communication outside the house.  However, I'm beginning to realize how much I would have missed had my nose been in my iPhone all day, every day.
I wouldn't have noticed the beautiful landscape or interesting people, and I certainly would have missed out on hilarious conversations with my host mom as we struggle to understand one another.
While I'm thankful for the communication made possible by technology, I will not miss out on this experience because of it.

- Green is a junior from Muncie, Ind., majoring in communication and Spanish.