Spending a semester abroad, studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, and traveling Europe by myself, for the first time, could have been completely overwhelming. Could have been, but wasn’t. I brought along my trusty companion: my laptop. Equipped with an Internet connection, I knew it could do practically anything.
Research assistant. Collaboration manager. Submissions service. Regardless of the stereotypes, I did STUDY abroad. I even collaborated with my mentor, Elon University Professor Brooke Barnett, to apply for a Lumen Prize, which enables me to research media rhetoric in terrorism coverage over the next two years. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t have had the information to complete my proposal, nor the resources to submit my application (at 6 a.m. in Dublin) and win one of the prizes. My Lumen work is now underway, thanks to the Internet.
Travel agent. Tour guide. Trip advisor. Five months in Europe is not a long time, especially for a girl determined to experience as much of the great continent as possible. Searching online, I was able to make arrangements to travel by plane, train and automobile to 11 countries. Thanks to other travelers’ tips and online city guides, I toured the Cliffs of Moor in Ireland, Loch Ness in Scotland and the Swiss Alps. Weather.com helped me assess what to pack. Thanks to the Internet, I had an umbrella in Krakow.
Communicator. Photo album. Friend. Six time zones may have separated us for over five months, but I never lost touch with my friends and family. We exchanged stories, complained about homework and shared photos. We weren’t charged any international calling fees or any international postage. My best friend shared her wedding plans via AOL Instant Messenger. My uncles emailed me photos of my newly adopted cousins. I assured my parents that I was alive by posting on my blog. I scheduled virtual face-to-face time with friends via Skype. No lag time, no waiting. Six hours difference, halfway around the world and I had my friends at my fingertips. Literally. All thanks to the Internet.
Story by Hannah Williams of the Elon School of Communictions