Peeking carefully through the open door, the four green lights emanating from the small black box standing on the white shelf elicited chills. I was keen to find out if it really worked. I rushed to the laptop, opened the lid, typed in the password, and hit enter.
The cursor found the Wi-Fi symbol in the menu bar faster than it takes a baseball to travel from the pitcher’s hand to the batter awaiting it. A touch on the glass surface of the track pad revealed that the system had already begun searching for available networks. My eyes flew through the list, looking for three letters followed by three digits. There it was, ATT457. My heartbeat accelerated as I typed in the password and hit enter one final time.
The technician had promised that everything had been set up and would work like a treat, but I remained a bit skeptical.
The four bars in the menu bar stopped flashing, they’d changed to static black – I was connected! I realized that it really worked when I clicked on the icon of the web browser; I was online, finally.
It’s been quite a journey for me to arrive at a point where I could access the Internet from home. I arrived in Hamden on Jan. 8, and moved in a day later. The relieving moment you’ve just witnessed happened on Wednesday, March 12, two months after my arrival.
It all began on the day I moved in. “It won’t take long,” I remember the promise I received together with a card from a sales agent of a big telecommunications company. I was assured that this guy was a miracle worker who would make sure I was online whenever I wanted it to happen.
Having experienced waiting periods for Internet installation services as long as six weeks at home, I remained unconvinced but hopeful when the leasing agent closed the door behind her after she had finished the little welcome tour through my new apartment.
The first problem I saw seemed to be eliminated the next day. Without a U.S. phone number, it would be quite costly to go through all the details necessary to order Internet. The chosen SIM card was already on the way, but it would take a few days for it to arrive. Without Internet, VoIP alternatives were also out of the question. Luckily, the cheerful leasing agent told me that she had contacted that miracle worker of hers, and I should be contacted by him shortly.
The days went by, but I received no call. In addition, I couldn’t get one question out of my head: Would he really call a foreign phone number to sell a service? I received an email a few days later.
Wait… email? That’s correct, I managed to secure a SIM card for a tablet computer. That would be a story of its own, though. The first attempt to buy one of those ended with a coworker at a large department store showing me SD cards. I gave up when she, clearly working in the electronics department, told me that she had never heard of such a thing – hear face telling me that she thought I must have arrived straight from Mars.
That email, however, asked me to confirm that I was OK with them contacting me – an interesting little detail because in my experience it’s always been the other way around. Companies would keep contacting you unless you told them to stop.
When I had finally entered the world of communications in the U.S. a few days later, I hadn’t received anything in response to that email.
Somehow, and that’s my part in this odyssey, I couldn’t convince myself to place that one call. I’ve never been a fan of phone conversations. Missing out on gestures and facial expressions to find out more about the person I’m talking with has always been an element that bothered me.
My disfavor of doing this over the phone was strengthened by the fact that I feared to be overwhelmed by the options I might have to choose from. I wanted to make a well-informed decision, ensuring that I did only get what I needed and didn’t end spending more than necessary.
With just a few days in my new surroundings, I wasn’t sure if I felt comfortable enough to handle this matter in a phone conversation. The adjustment to the new language environment was still in progress. Would I be able to make clear what I wanted?
Days passed by, and my attention shifted towards the beginning classes soon. With schoolwork slowly building up, though, the problem became evident. Without Internet at home, I needed to be on campus for almost everything. Likewise, small things like video chats with friends and family or watching a movie on Netflix, which should help to bring some balance into my life, were impossible.
To Be Continued…