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Funny questions when you move abroad

Some funny conversations I had in the last weeks with friends and colleagues who are not so familiar with living abroad: „Will you keep your email-adress“ was one of my favourite ones (of course I will). Will you keep your mobile telephone number (yes). Will you have internet in Brasil (doh – of course). All this made me wonder, because to some people Brazil still seems to be an unkown third world country filled with jungle and beaches, and not the worlds 6th (or 7th) biggest economy. It is a very big country with a lot of social problems, but it is often equally, in some ways even more „modern“ or „developed“ than Germany. And so it was not only funny but also quite interesting, to be thrown back into the Stone Age for the last couple of days we stayed in Berlin. This Stone Age was called: Lichtenrade.

Stone Age is the absence of internet

Lichtenrade is the central-south part of Berlin, and it is where my mother lifes and where the house of my grandmother is situated – the place we were living for the last days in Germany. Lichtenrade is not the Stone Age per se, but the lack of things we like and use a lot – like decent cafés or the internet – felt very oldfashioned. Additionally the city of Berlin decided to renovate the two major routes to the south of Berlin at the same time (U6 and S2), so that it took us more that one and a half hours to get anywhere in the city from our temporary residence.

But most stone-ageish of all felt the internet situation. While my parents use the internet for about five years (at least partly), they never cared about internet. DSL1000 is what they have and because of the gap between the two houses the wireless was often painfully slow, if not non-existent. This was even worse, since the place we stayed in didn’t have decent mobile network connection and therefore internet on our phonses worked neither. And you need to miss the things you use in order to unterstand, how regular you are using them: an online education program with videos – almost impossible to watch. Youtube also not possible. Even loading emails could be a timeconsuming effort. Since my wife and me use the internet quite frequently, we had do negotiate times, when one of us could use the internet by him- or herself.

But Internet Service Providers are the real Stone Age in Germany

And then came the last two days, where the phone provider of my parents decided to finally to something about the bad voice quality of their telephone line. Deutsche Telekom sent a text message reporting success, only the crackling noises in the phone was not gone – therefore the internet connection was dead. I tried for some hours and called different support hotlines, where the best answers reminded me very much of living in an underdeveloped country: „what you describe is technically not possible“, I was told after I replugged some of the cables as I was told by the support worker and he didn’t get the result he wanted. Then I was told „the problem is, that I can’t access the system right now we are having computer problems – could you call back in an hour?“. If this doesn’t feel like Brazil, I don’t know what would!

Our solution to the lack of internet felt also very Brazilian: after talking to my parents and the neighbours, we managed to get internet access at the house of our neighbours, where we finally and nervously did the check-in for our flights (they had internet but no printer so I had to print our boarding passes in a file and go back to my mother’s place to print them). And this is how despite of the felt Stone Age and with the help of friendly people we managed to find a way out. Brazil (and internet) – here we come again.

Addition1: The previous text was written in Germany but since there was a lot to do in the last couple of days, I couldn’t put it online. Since we are in Santos the situation feels a little stone-age-ish again: I have wonderful mobile phone connection, but a limit of 10MB per day (20 if I pay an additional 50 centavos, which is about 15 cents and therefor ok). Wireless we have only sometimes, via some obscure, slow but open (and possibly dangerous) connection called INTELBRAS. The strange thing in Brazil is, that a lot of places have wireless, but you do not want to sit in a cafe with a laptop. Nobody does that and I suppose the reason for this is, that the latop might get robbed way to easy.

Addition 2: Germany really is an underdeveloped country when it comes to internet service. We had our line up and running within 2 days, wireless router installed and the tv set up, all done by the provider. And after some initial problems (a technician showed up within 24 hours at our home – unbelievable in Germany, where some problems take months to solve) the internet is running fine.

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