I was stealing WiFi for 6 months and now it’s gone. Here’s what I learned.

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I moved into my studio in Shanghai in December last year after having crashed on a few couches several months prior. Located in the heart of downtown and newly renovated with an oven and washing machine, I was beyond ecstatic to kick off this fresh start on my own. The day after I moved in I canceled all my meetings and went on what would be one of dozens of trips to the nearest IKEA store to grab all the essentials and turn my studio into a cozy man cave. One thing I was missing, however, was WiFi.

While browsing nearby WiFi on my phone one evening I spotted a cafe whose signal came out pretty strong. With a name like [NAME]COFFEE, a few potential passwords came to mind. After a few attempts, “ILove[NAME]” came out as the winner (minus the caps). Within 5 seconds I jumped out of my bed to grab my laptop and tried giving this new free WiFi some extra love. It worked.

I thought I could use this until I was ready to get my own — “no more than a couple of weeks” I thought. Well, almost 6 months went by and I was still using [NAME]COFFEE’s WiFi; that is until I came home from work one night unable to connect any of my devices to it.

Because of how close the cafe is to my apartment (I can see it from my kitchen window) I decided to pop by to grab an unnecessary cup of coffee and check if they had changed their password.

They hadn’t.

Lessons I’ve learned while not having WiFi in my apartment.

Because my work requires my using the internet for research purposes as well as website and social management, I would spend the majority of my time at home on the web/my laptop.

Ever since I lost WiFi, however, I have found more focus. I prioritize better and stress less over the emails and social notifications I may or may not have accumulated over night (I usually wake up around 7am anyway, so these things can certainly wait an hour or two). Not having WiFi in my apartment consequently reduces the amount of time I can spend on the internet, which ultimately leads to less procrastination when I do have access to WiFi and more time on what I really need to get done.

But more importantly, I eat better. Which leads me to my next point.

I spend more time in the kitchen and less on my laptop. The only time I use the latter for is to connect my Spotify to my Bluetooth speakers. I pay more attention to what I eat and dedicate more time to cooking. I appreciate my meals a lot more and feel ready to get work done when I’m done.

Hiring an Ayi (/a-yi/ Chinese maid) is very common here in China. They usually come once or twice a week to clean your apartment and may also offer to cook if you throw some extra RMB onto the table. Given how small my studio is and the fact that I don’t like other people touching my things, however, I usually clean it myself — and enjoy the hell out of it.

Not having WiFi has made me more aware of everything that needs to be cleaned and washed. My studio looks a lot more in place and ready to host the housewarming party I never threw.

I have bought 5 books over the past 4 months — 3 of which I haven’t even started reading. When I come home from work or a cafe and know that I can’t access the internet to binge watch Friends for the millionth time, I turn on the speakers, sit on my bed and read. Consequently I acquire more knowledge and put myself to bed a lot quicker.

Admittedly there are nights I really don’t feel like reading, especially after having spent hours editing articles or having written a bunch myself. Knowing I don’t have any WiFi to come home to, I reach out to friends to set up dinner plans followed by drinks, should we feel like going a little crazy on the wallet. I socialize more.

Constantly experimenting with life.

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