In the first 10 days now that I've lived in Copenhagen, I've been without wi-fi in my room and have been navigating the streets without a data plan on my iPhone. Now, if you would have read that sentence to me in the time before I left to go abroad, I would have probably had something close to a panic attack. Besides being very directionally challenged, and I mean very, I am also a huge fan of reading blogs and am borderline obsessed with Instagram. Admittedly I was a little wary the first few days of not being totally connected and in the know, but have started to realize all of the benefits it has created in turn.
The most powerful benefit to being "unplugged" has been to work on my navigation and mapping skills. I'll be the first to tell you that I couldn't point out north or south to someone even if my life depended on it, but I think in the last few years I have been using my trusty iPhone maps as a crutch. I had forgotten that I was actually quite good at getting myself to a destination with a tangible paper map and pen in hand.
Today I drew out this route before leaving campus because my Danish class had a cafe night at a local restaurant called Kaffesalonen. My friend and I headed out and I got us to our destination on our own without getting lost once. Arriving at the cafe both on-time and with confidence was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in a while. It also encouraged me to look out for street names, and in turn, notice more of my surroundings. Then when it was time to head home and my friend and I parted ways, I was able to get back to my metro stop without needing to check my map.
Now, I may be more interested in this phenomena than the average person because I am currently in urban design theory + urban journal classes, but I wanted to encourage you to try this challenge out for yourself, even with a perfectly functioning data plan in hand. You might be surprised at what looking up from your glitchy smartphone map can do to change your perspective.
Will I live in another country for 9 months without Internet in my apartment? Of course not. I would miss talking to my family and friends at home terribly. But, these first few weeks have taught me something invaluable, and who knows, I just may never sign up for a Danish data plan on my iPhone!
Is this something you would like to try? Happy travels and good luck! x. Paige