About two weeks ago I landed in Russia, and about one week ago I started living with my new host family and going to my classes at the university. I am hoping to make a post on all of these new things soon, but wanted to update first why it took me so long to get any post up on the blog.
Long story short: I had no form of wifi and a very small mobile plan that had an incredibly weak signal at my host home. My host, who is one older woman, lives alone in an old apartment that has remarkably thick concrete walls which were essentially blocking any signals. I was able to send texts, but unable to load my email or a safari search page.
Russian businesses, restaurants, malls, etc do not offer free public internet most of the time and when they do it is not guaranteed to be secure or safe whatsoever. Also, many Russian families do not have wifi at their homes — something that really shocked me. It turns out that I was the only student who’s host family did not have some form of wifi, however. Go figure.
So I asked my host about getting some wifi and she said it was basically my job to figure that out if I wanted it. She handed me an old ethernet cord she had that had literally been eaten through by something or torn.
Honestly, I kinda freaked (internally). One, I had literally just landed in Russia and the thought of having to do this scared me — I’m not even sure what I would need to do in America to set up ethernet. And two, without actually having a form of data that could load safari websites, I actually could not look up HOW to do so. Looking back I was kind of being a baby about it. This problem now seems so tiny when I think about it.
In a weird way, I think being in the digital dark the first week and a half here was a large component of my stress trying to adjust to an entirely new environment. It was nice for like three days, but then after that I felt like I did not know what was going on in the world. I had no access to the news, couldn’t talk easily with family and friends at home, etc. Plus, having access to those things are usually my break for when I am studying or need some relaxation.
So, after talking to my teachers I decided to go to an internet service store and try to buy a portable modem instead of setting up ethernet for the apartment. The modem accesses 4G networks and acts like a wifi router that can be connected to any device. It cost 2,900 rubles to purchase the router — which is called an “egg” — and then 1,400 rubles on top of that per month. I got the maximum plan which allows me to stream videos if the 4G connection is both strong and does not have much traffic. And even better, it appears to not have any monthly data cap. And best of all? I did the transaction ALL in Russian…. Talking about different plans, how to set it up, etc, which was a REALLY BIG deal for me to do in Russian.
I did not have to pass along my credit card information to purchase it, however, I did have to pass along my passport information. Here, that actually is very very normal. For example, I had to hand over my passport information to buy a SIM card for my phone. I have to carry my passport everywhere and anyone (foreigner or not) is subject to passport checks. One student on our program was already stopped in the subway once, randomly, for a passport check.
Anyways, I am now a proud owner of a Yota Egg. It’s about the size of my palm and as thick as maybe two iPhones stacked. Almost wish we had similar devices like this in the U.S. My friend had one in Seoul three years back, but hers had a monthly data cap.
Here’s an article by wired.com if you are interested more about this egg.
Dueces until next time 🙂