Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday + {Traveling & Technology}

I am nervous about traveling to Europe in the middle of my last semester of grad school. On one hand, I know that this is the best time to plan our trip: we're between leases, between jobs, between cities. We are coming off four years in Bellingham and are moving back to Seattle to look for work while Gooligan researches grad school. Intellectually, I know we just have to seize the moment and take advantage of our youth and our good health to take this trip. After all, my program is perfectly set up to work while on the road: the Vermont College of Fine Arts is a low-residency school, which means that I only have to fly to Vermont for ten-day residencies twice a year. In-between those days, I am free to live wherever I want, even if it is out of a backpack for thirty-nine days in Europe. The single caveat, of course, is that my schoolwork will not be put on hold.

Luckily, my adviser this semester has been everything I hoped she would be: she is smart, a wonderful resource for book recommendations, intellectually engaging in an incredibly rich way, and organized. She has given me so much direction and focus that I am sure this is going to be the best semester of my program. I just finished reading her notes on my creative thesis manuscript yesterday and feel so grateful for her insights, which I think will propel my writing forward by great lengths.

As part of my final semester, I have to write and present a lecture on some aspect of the craft of writing, in addition to preparing a creative thesis. I will also be producing new work and reading. In one way, the reading is what I am most nervous about; I have to track down copies of several books and lug them around Europe, since I will not have access to the amazing public libraries that we're blessed with in both Bellingham and Seattle.

Since my adviser recently made the switch to digital correspondence instead of merely relying on the USPS, the rest of my work--writing, revising, editing, question-asking, researching--will be easily accomplished on a laptop.

Which meant that Gooligan and I had to make a decision. I wanted to experience Europe technology-free, in the sense that I didn't want to have to lug around a computer and/or worry about our computers being stolen or damaged. But Gooligan pointed out that I was being impracticable and giving myself undue amounts of stress to insist on trying to rough it with composition notebooks and internet cafes.

It's one of those big decisions on a trip like this, though: how much technology do you want to bring with you? We're bringing one laptop. Since so many of the AirBNB places we're staying at have wifi included in the price, the benefits outweigh the risks, we feel: we can both update our blogs, we can access our emails, I can work on my homework, and we will be able to make changes to our itinerary if anything comes up.

It would definitely be a different experience to go technology-free, but at this point in our traveling lives, at least, having that safety line is worth it.


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