And with a sigh of relief…

Okay, so it is time for some explaining — where have I been?

On a deserted tropical isle?
In the mountains of Tibet?

No, I’ve been here all the time, pounding away at my computer keyboard, hoping that each new day might bring a better internet connection.

The earthquake that cut several telecommunication cables off the coast of Taiwan on December 26th has been the center of my world for the past month. I’ve spoken to my mom back in the US and she said she hadn’t even heard about it. That kind of shocked me, but I suppose it shouldn’t. What impact does it really have in the rest of the world? (Well, if you were trying to do business in China over the last month, a big one!)

The cut in the cables led to a complete disruption in both international phone call service and internet service for websites located outside of China (and many in China). For the first few days I could not access hotmail, gmail or google. Two days later I was able to use my email accounts and search for information on google. A lot of good the google searches did me, when I found a website I wanted to see, it was usually not available. WordPress and the proxy server I must use to access it only became available today. One month later!

During this time I have become very familiar with China Daily, the English language newspaper for China. Their stories are dull and politically cleansed, but at least we had some access to what was happening beyond our own lives.

That was the most difficult thing for me to come to terms with. Suddenly I felt very cut off from the world. I couldn’t call my family to wish them a happy holidays. I couldn’t read the latest headlines. I couldn’t while away hours reading various blogs that I enjoy. I couldn’t even email! It is at times like these that we realize that technology has completely consumed our lives. How did we live before this? How did someone stay in contact with friends? How did someone even find a new job? Of course I am old enough to know exactly how life was before the internet infiltration –  it was fine. We didn’t know what we were missing!

I’ve done this before, after all. When I lived in Kuwait we had no internet. (Well, some people had just started to use it there, but it was very slow and not available widely.) We actually SENT letters to our friends & family, many of which never arrived thanks to an inefficient postal system. We listened to last year’s music on pirated cassette tapes. We watched old movies that had been censored. We constantly wondered what was going on back in the States, or wherever one was from. We did have Asian Star TV for a while, which included MTV, but they mostly played Hong Kong pop songs & Bollywood ballads, not the songs from the US we wanted to hear. (Although I remember that the Cypress Hill song “Insane in the Membrane” was so popular and so heavily played that even my Mother knew the words…)

I have always envied the explorers who were able to head out into a new world and explore it all for the first time, without the benefit of a lonely planet guide, so maybe this was a good time for me to reflect on my recent obsession with having information always seconds away.

But there is another aspect to this story which is not so great. Two weeks ago,  I was truly feeling sorry for myself. See, I have been accepted into the graduate Library Science program at Texas Women’s University for the Spring semester. Due to my inability to access their website or make an international phone call, I was unable to register for any classes before they were all filled. It is a difficult thing to be in an internet study program without internet! I’ve had to make the decision to postpone the start of my program to the Summer, and I was quite upset about this.

I thought, why do these things happen to me? How unfair! Poor me! But then I remembered the global rich list and how 99% of the world’s population lives under such dire conditions that not having a broadband internet connection would certainly not even register on their radar as a problem. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to apply to grad school without worrying about the expense. I’m lucky to be living in China of my own free will, knowing I can leave anytime I want. I’m lucky I ONLY have to worry about not having internet access. I have a home, a job, food and family.

And now I do have internet again! I’m back!

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3 Responses to “And with a sigh of relief…”

  1. superkimbo Says:

    So many good points Global Gal! I too can remember the days before the Internet, but I can’t really remember how I found things out. I think I spent a lot of time at the library. I certainly didn’t know as many people as I do know and I certainly wouldn’t be able to work and travel abroad as easily as I do. All of which I think are good things. It’s hard for me to even imaging my days before blogging – and I only started last August! We were contemplating moving to China for a while, but the restricted Internet access (just the general censorship) was enough to put me off the idea for the time being.

    Congrats on getting into the Library program of your choice (even if it will be a delayed start!). I’m curious, how did you pick that program? My new position in Bangkok will be a merger between my current position (tech integration) and Library Media Specialist, so I’m looking into library programs myself. Any advice?

  2. global gal Says:

    Congrats on your new position in Bangkok! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity! One growing branch of library science is in your area – the fusion between technology, media and the library. Libraries are digitizing, becoming virtual, and include so much more than just books! (Web technologies, online searches, databases, virtual libraries, and more)

    This is one of the areas that I am very interested in, but I haven’t yet decided on a specialization. Whatever I choose, it must emphasize technology.

    I chose TWU’s program because:
    ALA-accredited (A MUST!)
    Masters program entirely online
    In-state tuition (& Texas tuition is lower than the national average)
    Classes emphasizing technology
    Health science specialization (which I am considering with my nursing background)
    Good, solid reputation

    I really think you would be a perfect fit for a library degree. It is so flexible because there are so many different roles a librarian can take on. There are several ALA-accredited masters programs that are conducted entirely online, if that fits your lifestyle, and many excellent traditional programs.
    Visit Become a Librarian for programs and more info.

  3. superkimbo Says:

    Thanks for all the advice! It’s good to hear the details on why you chose your program. I feel like I’m choosing a bit at random and a bit for convenience (kind of like most things I do). I love the link!

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