I Barely Survived College Without a Laptop

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I’ve never been good with technology. I know I sound like your 80-year-old grandma, but I couldn’t keep my Walkmans from the ’90s in working order, let alone a laptop or cellphone.  My electronic graveyard is as full as the National Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. It’s rows and rows of broken or lost stereos, iPods, phones, computers and a Zune mp3 player.

I’m not reckless with battery operated items,  just incredibly clumsy. Once, when I owned my used Mac, my kitten jumped on my bed and I accidentally spilled water on the mousepad. The drops of water seeped through the cracks and into the hard drive, and once again, I found myself computer-less. I didn’t blame my sweet little Ringo, but I did blame my very bad luck.

One month before entering college, I replaced my Mac with a Samsung. I felt so relieved and excited about my new device that I believed it invincible. A few months later, however, I found myself preparing a eulogy for a broken electronic once again.

I felt the pit in my stomach grow as I continuously pressed my silver Samsung’s power button over and over. Its black screen taunted me. How could it already be broken after only having it for less than a year? I thought of all my English class assignments due this week and quietly started to panic. How do I live without a laptop as a sophomore in college? I pressed my Samsung’s power button one more time—still nothing.

After my Samsung bit the dust, I knew that I was financially and emotionally ill-equipped to buy a new laptop. So, still mourning the loss, I went weeks without a device to use for homework. Luckily, my sympathetic and awesome friends let me use their computers when they didn’t need them (shout out, you know who you are), but that couldn’t go on forever. No one wants to put up with a needy laptop borrower.

When I went home that year for Christmas, I didn’t bother asking my mom to help me out; I felt too guilty robbing her of funds to pay for my broke ass computer. I smiled through the agony and desperation when she asked me, “Sweetie, are you going to buy a new laptop soon?”

“Um, yeah, Mom, I think so,” I replied, even though I had roughly $30 in my bank account.

That’s when I noticed my uncle lounging on the sofa with his iPad mini. I remember hearing good things about the gadget, but I could never picture myself actually using one. It seemed more like an amenity rather than an actual need. I was curious, though. When I arrived back at school, I got on my friend’s computer (once again) and I researched the tiny rectangular device. It looked convenient, small and the best part—only $300. Ah, right in my budget.

At the time, I trusted a $300 laptop as much as I trusted gas station sushi. Considering my luck, buying a cheap laptop meant I’d be stuck with another broken one within a few weeks. I felt confident enough, however, that an Apple product such as the iPad could get me through a few months.

After coming to terms with my predicament and depositing my paycheck, I input my debit card information on Apple’s website and began waiting patiently for UPS to drop off what I considered my temporary replacement for a laptop.

The first few weeks felt like heaven. I completed my homework and assignments with ease and actually enjoyed typing on a mini keyboard attachment. I had no problem using my tiny “computer,” since it could basically do everything a laptop could.

However, three months in, I hit a few roadblocks. My Bluetooth keyboard randomly stopped connecting, so I resorted to writing all essays (including a never ending eight-page research paper) and articles on my iPad’s touch-screen, small-scale keyboard.

Not only did looking at a document on an eight inch screen while balancing it on my lap suck, but I also suddenly became the world’s worst and slowest typer. I constantly typed “ghe” instead of “the” or pressed the upper case button instead of “a.” I felt like I never even took the “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing” class in the fourth grade; how could she not prepare me for the long hours of constantly deleting typing mistakes on a flat glass surface?

As my laptop envy grew, so did my discomfort. Instead of writing essays and news articles in my relaxing bed or in a cozy coffee shop, I sat under the florescent lights in Strozier library hunched over a desktop computer for hours. The distracting library wasn’t my ideal place to write. The printer never shut up, I constantly heard students discussing their Biology classes and I couldn’t stand the smell of the Chick-fil-a that people brought for dinner. Are you going to share your fries or make a vegan smell your chicken strips for an hour? I dreamed of the days where I could make myself a cup of hot coffee, slip into yoga pants and write in the comfort of my home.

This past Christmas, and the middle of my senior year, I still couldn’t muster up the courage to ask my mom for help. Ironically, my siblings and I all pitched in to get my mom a fairly affordable laptop this year. I was excited for her, but thoroughly unamused. After opening presents, we went to see my grandma.

I wonder what she got for Christmas, I think to myself.

Then, I see a laptop box on the kitchen table.

Awesome.

Coincidentally, I was given the task of setting up my grandma’s new Chromebook. I loved hearing the click of the keyboard buttons as my fingers typed rapidly. After I happily made my recently technologically advanced grandma an email and set her desktop to a picture of a cute golden retriever puppy, my curiosity hit. I began researching Chromebooks and found one listed for $250.

That’s it? I don’t have to sell my precious Ringo for another Mac? Gas stations must have upgraded their sushi rolls, because a few days later, I put in my debit card number to buy my first laptop almost two years later.

When I walked up to my doorstep and saw my Chromebook waiting for me, I ripped open the package like a starving wildebeest.

As I write this, with my Chromebook sitting comfortably on my lap and the smell of coffee in the air, I realize that I shouldn’t have taken a technological short and bought an iPad. Even though I can laugh at my experiences with owning an iPad instead of a laptop in college, I’m thrilled by my clicking keyboard and so thankful my computer-less, button-free iPad days are behind me.

Allison is a future New Yorker who likes coffee, books and records more than she likes people. She is currently studying Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State.

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