The other evening, my friends and I celebrated the recent swearing-in of a buddy who passed the bar. Apparently moving across an ocean is a hot topic, because I heard about little else. One person did give me a run down of a froggy research project, but other than that, I heard about everything I should (and shouldn’t) do. I did seek out the advice of one of the ladies present, an old prof of mine who hails from France. I figured she might have some sort of idea of what it is like to live in Europe. But other than that…good grief. It’s like listening to single, childless people advise women on how to manage their kids. Still, I was a good girl, listened (somewhat) attentively, and took notes.
Cell phones (or mobile phones, if you’re in the EU) were a hot topic. This is, of course, something I have been looking into, for obvious reasons. While Verizon has great coverage in Ireland, their pricing is nasty, and their own sales representatives told me to suspend my service plan when I leave the U.S.. I’ve bought burner phones before, but I would like to use my own device whenever and wherever I want (especially since I’m not trying to be a super-spy and evade multiple government and military organizations).
A friend who recently returned from Italy warned me not to use my iPhone at all, as lots of phones get stolen. I took this advice with a grain of salt, as, statistically, the chance of any particular phone being stolen is about 1 in 287. For comparison, roughly 1 out of 196 Americans have their phone stolen each year. If you want to check my numbers, grab a calculator and do it yourself. Either way, Ireland’s 16k stolen phones seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the U.S.’s 1.6 million. Since I would really like to stay with my iPhone, rather than buying a flip phone, I think I’ll take my chances. I don’t talk on my phone much in public, anyway, and when I do, I usually use my headset–the headset was one of the reasons I chose an iPhone in the first place.
The next hurdle, then, is figuring out how to connect my phone with a European server. Before that, however, I have to get my iPhone unlocked (I haven’t decided if I’m going to jailbreak my phone, or actually be all official and ask Verizon to do it, since, reportedly, they will only unlock one phone every ten months). From my preliminary research, Vodafone is the most widely used European service provider, and is also fairly cheap–running at a little above 40USD per month for full coverage within Ireland (although that might be a current special). Still, that is cheaper than Verizon’s monthly plan, which runs at 45USD and only allows for 250MB of data (Vodafone’s plan allows 1GB data).
So far so good, but there is a fly in my soup, waiter. Considering that Europe is about the same size as the U.S. (well, the U.S. plus an extra Montana), that many EU countries have the same mobile service providers, and that there’s really no such thing as roaming fees in the U.S., one would expect that data rates would be the same across the EU. Right? Wrong-o. The minute you set foot out of your country, roaming charges commence. Basically, it’s like telling someone living in Maine that they’ll get slapped with extra fees every time they set foot in New York. Apparently someone in the EU thought that was unfair, too, because starting in 2015, EU companies will nix their roaming fees. That’s great, but…I won’t be able to take advantage of it.
Lesson learned: Timing is everything. Apparently my timing sucks.