As I sit here without internet, after a couple days without power (well on and off power anyways), I think about the chaos that ensued at home when we were without power for a few days back in 2013. Here is a little different, as there are rolling black outs, that are scheduled and we are given notice. So Wednesday night we received an email letting us know that there will be no power at the school Thursday from 9am to 5pm (though it ended up lasting longer). Funny thing is, half the school and our apartments are on the same grid as the hospital, so rolling black outs don’t apply to us there. My classroom had power, but our school office and computer lab did not. Therefore no internet, and unfortunately for the tech classes, no computers. These days we rely a lot on electricity and internet, that it’s interesting to see just how people function when you longer have that luxury.
At home, in the completely opposite climate, we had a black out for a few days. They called it the ‘polar vortex’. It was a cold and icy winter, and we spent 2-3 days (where I lived, but longer in other areas of Toronto) without power. The complaints of boredom, being cold, restaurants and other businesses being closed, were running rampant. Soon after people’s laptop batteries died, and their phones couldn’t be charged, they didn’t know what to do with themselves. My ex and I handled it well; spent most of our days just lying in bed, intertwined, reading. Something we would usually do anyways. We even went and he took some portraits of me surrounded by the icy branches down the road from my house. We made the best of it. I just remember how big of a deal it was made out to be. Pipes could freeze. So many problems arise with our houses, cars, and so on, with the freezing cold affecting it, without heat to combat it.
Meanwhile here, life goes on as usual. No ones bored because they are used to it. They are outside playing past sundown anyways. The heat doesn’t really affect housing issues, because most places don’t really have air conditioning anyways. No ones complaining, except the ribelles, foreigners, because we are used to power all the time. Power outages back at home mean something is wrong. But here, you adapt. You figure it out. Teachers especially, have to figure it out, when you have planned lessons around worksheets that you can’t photocopy or videos that can no longer be shown. I mean obviously, I still tend to use my laptop until it dies, and it can still be a bit of a pain in the ass. But it’s actually refreshing. Sure, it would be nice to have the internet right now, so I can be typing this on my actual blog and not just on Microsoft Word. Sure, I would love to be able to message my parents because I just realized it has been a few days since I have talked to them and I miss them. But I know that in a day or two I can do that. It’s not permanent. So instead, I plan to relax, read my book, and enjoy the fact that no one can text me right now and interrupt me.
All of this, has even made me realize I still have yet to get a phone here. I mean I have my unlocked iPhone with me. I use it on wifi, but I haven’t bothered to go get a sim card for it because I don’t even really care. I know I should. It would definitely make contacting people easier when we aren’t just around the apartments and school. When things like this happen, where the internet is out and we want to contact people who don’t live a couple doors down from us. But I have realized how unnecessary it may be, when you live on a small island especially. Want to talk to someone? Go walk and find them. At home, that concept is a little more difficult. I could drive to people, but the likelihood of rocking up to their house and people just being home, unlikely. So perhaps phones and internet, in the society I live in back in Canada, are just a tad bit more necessary.
I love my laptop. My phone. My technology. I enjoy being connected. Especially living so far from the people I love, it makes me feel better knowing I have a way to stay a part of their lives. I am not sitting here trying to make it seem like I am above all that. Like I could live in a world with no internet, power and connection to the world outside of this island, and be okay. I would not be. I would miss my family even more. I would miss posting my pictures and sharing a little bit of my world with everyone. It would be difficult for me. But it is nice to be able to disconnect every once and awhile, and not have a choice in the matter. With it always being readily available, it’s hard to make the choice of keeping the laptop closed for the day, or not looking at your phone.
But it’s nice to see a different side of things, where people aren’t too concerned when power and internet go out for awhile. It doesn’t put a pause on life. Life keeps going as it had been. The world keeps spinning. It’s funny because I remember the first time the power went out, unplanned. Our apartments and classrooms. And all the new teachers here were asking if school will still happen if the power doesn’t come back on. We couldn’t shower. It was hot, so we had no AC or fans. We would be a sweaty mess. Teachers who have been here awhile just laughed. Of course school would go on. Power outages happen. If we shut down every time there was one, we would miss many days of school. You just have to deal with it. And learn to let go of the little things that don’t matter. You couldn’t shower? So what, neither could anyone else. You didn’t sleep well? Yeah, well that’s life.
One of the many reasons I enjoy moving to other countries, and teaching, instead of just traveling for a few weeks here and there, is the ways I am able to adapt. It’s not always easy and smooth sailing at first. I am not perfect. But that’s what I like. The struggle to reach outside my comfort zone and figure it out. Life is messy. Embrace it. Learn from it. Let it challenge you in ways you don’t even realize it can. And just when you think you’ve figured it out, something else comes along to challenge you and test your limits all over again. It’s a fantastic way to live.