Archives for posts with tag: IFSA-Butler

IFSA blog 10.16.13

Midterms were particularly hard this year for me. That’s not to say they weren’t par for the course at a national university. They mostly included in-class essays and short answers based on the readings, presentations, etc.

What’s changed is that none of this is in English anymore.

Read the rest of the post here. 

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Hello, my name is Zach, and I’m a technoholic.

I’m always connected. To my phone. To email. To Facebook. To Twitter. To digital conversations far and wide, public and private (who am I kidding, it’s all public).

This weekend, that changes.

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t go an hour and a half without itching to turn my phone, tap in the code and scroll through every information feed I can get my hands on. In the States, where Internet is ubiquitous, my phone battery is dead by 2:30 p.m. Here in Costa Rica, Wi-Fi is still ubiquitous enough that I’m connected most of the day.

As someone who lives online, I need to learn how to disconnect, for my personal sanity and for the sake of truly enjoying life without pixels.

I need to take a break. I need to detox. I need to quit cold turkey. Starting tomorrow. 

As of Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon, as I go hiking through Parque Amistad in the most eastern part of Costa Rica, I will be completely offline.

No iPhone. No computer. No Kindle. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Skype. No email.  No iPod.

This is everything work and technology related I am bringing on my trip to Parque Amistad this weekend: a notebook, a camera and a phone I don't plan to use.

This is everything work and technology related I am bringing on my trip to Parque Amistad this weekend: a notebook, a camera and a phone I don’t plan to use.

Just my friends, a big binder of school reading, a notepad to jot down some thoughts, and lots of physical activity, like hiking, farming, building, etc.

(Full disclosure: I am bringing a “dumb phone” in case of emergencies, but it will remain firmly off for the entire trip and at the bottom of my backpack. I’m also bringing my Nikon. We’re going to be seeing some spectacular stuff, and I’d rather not miss the chance to document it.)

Really, the timing of this retreat from technology is perfect:

  • A trip to a country without my data plan has been a struggle in and of itself. I’m constantly looking for Wi-Fi signal and occasionally missing out on the country I should be exploring. I haven’t had the opportunity to fully unplug. This will hopefully be the opportunity I need to, so to speak, rip the band-aid off.
  • Having just left MediaShift today, tomorrow will be the first time in more than three years (over 1100 days) that I will not be replying constantly to emails from editors and sources.
  • Mid-terms are coming up, but my preparation can take place entirely offline with the use of a very large notebook. Any paper writing and presentation creation can and should take place after reading all the material anyway. If anything, staying disconnected will let me get work done faster. 
  • Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins tonight and ends Thursday night. Shabbat begins only 24 hours after that on Friday night and ends Saturday night. Both are holidays that should be reserved for contemplation and relaxation. For the first time in a long time, I’ll be able to do just that.

It’s been years since the last time I’ve gone without Internet access for more than 24 hours, especially with my 3-year-old dependence on iPhone, which I only half-jokingly refer to as my third arm and an extension of my body.

I’m hoping this trip will give me the perspective to understand the place of technology in my life so that I may live life, offline and on, to its
fullest extent.

IFSA blog 8.26.13

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the sun. Or the weight of my backpack. Or of my clothes. Or a combination of them all.

Either way, one part of this journey to the top of Cerro Chato (literally, “Flat Hill”) involved lying down in the middle of the path hypervenilating.

This hill was anything but flat. 8 kilometers round-trip at a very steep incline. I was clammy, sweaty, and ready to give up and head right back down the mountain to the hostel.

Lucky the bottom half of my pants could zip off. Lucky that I could take my shirt off to prevent overheating. Lucky I brought enough water to keep me hydrated.

And I’m very lucky to have two good friends to share the literal load on my shoulders and take as many breaks as we needed to make it to the top.

And boy was it worth it.

Check out photos of the magnificent view. 

(For the record, I’m still too sore to walk.)

IFSA blog 8.5.13 2

New campus. New students. New professors. New subjects. New regulations. New languages.

All of the change associated with studying at a new school is enough to drive even the most competent student mad.

Here are a couple of tips I picked up from my experience of “syllabus week” at a foreign university.

Read the tips here, and add your own!

IFSA blog 8.5.13 1

It seems completely counter-intuitive to send study abroad students to a completely different place for their first week of orientation, only to shuttle them off to a completely new town with completely new family.

It’s paramount to doubling the culture shock, antithetical to IFSA’s promise of “More culture. Less shock.”

But, by George, it works. Transition to university has been easier than I could have imagined, no small thanks to my time in Liberia.

Read the rest of my explanation here. 

If you’re not a friend of mine on Facebook (sorry), you probably haven’t seen many pictures yet of my tour through the beautiful country of Costa Rica.

Check out the pictures on my ongoing blog at IFSA-Butler, my study abroad program. This time, I feature San José, the capital of Costa Rica, and la Rincón de la Vieja, an active volano.