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Why I think having a VPN is vital abroad

A dark blue banner with pale stars on the upper half. In the middle, the mountain logo of NordVPN and the word "NordVPN" are centered.

It is not an opinion that browsing without the protection of a VPN can be dangerous. When you connect to the internet (even through data), you allow your service provider to access your location, device and browser information, and any other information that you access through the connection. And if you’re on unprotected wifi (wifi provided without a password or for public use), anyone using that network can access that information too. This is why I have had a paid VPN service subscription for about 4 years through NordVPN.


Disclaimer: The following information is posted because I feel a VPN is a vital component to accessing an internet or data connection. While I feature an affiliate link that provides me an extension of service to my NordVPN account at no cost to you when you purchase a VPN, I am not partnered with NordVPN.

This is not a sponsored post. Every word here is the truth from me; I will not recommend a service that I don’t think others will like or benefit from!


So what is a VPN?

VPN is an abbreviation of Virtual Private Network. This takes your public internet connection and creates its own private network to anonymize and privatize the information shared through the connection. This gives you online privacy and anonymity with your data, which is why it is a popular service that people use when they are connected to networks, especially outside their internet network in their homes.

A VPN creates a “data tunnel” that hides your internet activity from your network provider and other users of the same network.

And how does a VPN make your information private?

IP address spoofing

To start, a VPN reroutes your IP (internet protocol) address. This IP address is a numerical identifier that provides those with access your location and device data. In basic terms, it is a unique name for your device on your internet network. The VPN gives you a new one that hides your real location, often giving you a new IP that claims you are in a different city or even a different country.

Data scrambling

A VPN scrambles, hides, and protects your data. This includes any files you upload and download, passwords and financial information, and any other information that you access and use during your connection. A VPN only hides this information from others on the network and the network owner. This doesn’t mean that you can give your credit card number to a shady site and it’s protected!

A gif of Captain Jack Sparrow the pirate looking around with innocence. He sniffs lightly and looks at the ground.

This scrambling and anonymity is what attracts a lot of cybercriminals to the services. VPNs are a very popular way to access pirated media like movies, games, TV series, books, and other services without being detected by law enforcement agencies, the government, and your network provider. Which is illegal and not endorsed by At Full Milk or any of its associates. So don’t do that.

So why would someone like an aux need a VPN abroad?

Accessing American/Canadian media on streaming services

If you use Netflix and Hulu, you’re most likely already aware that different countries have different series and movies available in different countries. For example, Doctor Who (a very popular, long-running, time travel sci-fi series) was available for years on Britain’s Netflix but not Netflix in the United States.

If you’ve moved from the United States or Canada to a European country like Spain, you’re probably missing quite a few of your favorite titles. But fret not! With a paid VPN service, you can change your appeared location and trick streaming services into thinking you’re still in the country that supplies you the media you want. This way, you can be in beautiful Madrid, Spain while Netflix believes you’re in Richmond, Virginia!

I specify a paid service because not all VPN services are created equal. There will be a section for free versus paid VPN services later in the post.

Save money on flights

Unfortunately, it’s legal for companies to inflate prices online for flights when you’re visiting the site more than once or whether you’re in a different country, even if it’s in the same currency. With a VPN, you can spoof your location to whether you’d like, and even refresh your connection to get a new IP address so you can visit the same websites again without having inflated prices.

For a full tutorial on how to take advantage of this VPN perk, check out NordVPN’s post on doing just that!

Protecting your data on free/public wifi

As mentioned in the start of the post, when you connect to the internet, you allow your service provider to access your location, device and browser information, and any other information that you access through the connection. And if you’re on unprotected wifi (wifi provided without a password or for public use), anyone using that network can access that information too.

So when you’re living your aux life and working at cafés, bars, libraries, or even at your school, you need your data to be secure. Through the IP spoofing and data scrambling mentioned in the section on how a VPN works, you can keep yourself safe. Those lesson plans and school activities you’re making will stay private, and so will your credit card information if you’re out buying a lesson or two from a website like Teachers Pay Teachers.

And for all the little Jack Sparrows up to your illegal shenanigans, your uploads and downloads stay private too. The library you’re streaming Vampire Diaries in won’t know a thing. Not that you’re doing that. You know, since it’s unethical to do this kind of illegal activity, especially when no one can catch you.

More on keeping your data private at your school

If you’re an aux, you’re probably using your school’s wifi when you’re connecting to the internet, even though data in Spain is super cheap and plans are super easy to get. Regardless of what you are connected to, your business should be your own, not your school’s.


Recommended content: How to: Getting a Spanish phone number & plan!


If you’re someone who can’t get through the day without filling your free blocks with fanfiction, someone who’s an avid messenger, or someone who simply doesn’t want your school to know your social media information, VPNs protect your identity and what you’re up to.

Jokes on pirating aside, don’t be spending your free time at your school doing anything creepy. Your VPN use at school should be for keeping your life private, not privatizing something gross. You’re on school property where children are. Keep that shit to yourself in your own piso.

Work an American job from abroad

Having your IP address attached to all of your work emails, video meetings, and your access to company websites and portals can mean that your bosses could find out you’re not in the USA. For tax and liability purposes, this can spell trouble for the company and they would have it in their rights to let you go.

If you’ve got a remote American job while you’re an aux and your boss doesn’t know you’re living in/moving to Spain yet, keep the gig going longer with a VPN.

Find out more on the importance of a VPN when working abroad in this post by Indie Traveler.

Quite frankly, I don’t trust free data services. A company has to pay their bills somehow, and they certainly aren’t providing you a free VPN service out of the goodness of their hearts. A few free VPN schemes have actually been caught data mining, and some have had customer data leakages:

Here’s an article. And another. And another. There’s more, but you get the gist. 5 different free VPN companies in those three articles alone caught with leakages and data selling.

Also, free VPNs typically lack in the customer service department. Without the income VPN companies get, there’s usually less customer service availability. It makes it harder to get the assistance that you need, when you need it.

Free VPNs usually lack the features that a paid VPN service can provide you. This often includes their service going undetected by streaming services. Free VPNs like Star VPN don’t work with Netflix and Hulu because their service isn’t good enough to go under these streaming giants’ radars. Sometimes free VPN services work fine until you get an email from Netflix stating that your account has been terminated for violating Terms of Service!

The NordVPN logo. On the left, a circular blue icon is visible with a cutout shape of a mountain in the middle of the lower half. On the right, large black text reads, Nord VPN.

The company I recommend — NordVPN!

About NordVPN

Nord “strives to make the internet better than it is today.” Nord’s company began in 2012 when childhood friends became increasingly concerned with internet censorship, surveillance, control, and data crimes. They launched a beta prototype and it had extremely positive feedback, so the company has grown and improved ever since.

Nord is available for pretty much all devices and popular browsers: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Android TV, Chrome, Edge, FireFox, and others. They’ve won awards from Forbes, PCMag, Time Magazine, and Independent Advisor.

Why I like NordVPN
Pricing

To start, I like Nord’s prices. Their standard VPN plan almost 4 years ago cost me around $85 USD / €81 euros for a 2-year plan, which is about the same price you’d pay with my referral link. Nord offers discounts for longer plans; there’s monthly, yearly, and then semi-yearly (2 years). The longer of a period you buy, the cheaper it becomes per month.

Ease of use
A screenshot of NordVPN's interface in dark mode. The upper right corner says the user is auto-connected to Spain #171 and there's an option to pause, turn off, and refresh the VPN connection. In the main portion of the page, it's a minimalist map of North America with blue dots all over different cities. Atlanta is highlighted, and a banner over it reads, "Connect to Atlanta."

NordVPN’s app and website is incredibly easy to use. The interface is clean, making it easy to find what you want. I can pause VPN coverage at the push of a button, change my location to anywhere I want on their minimalist map, access and change account details, etc.

Add 6 devices on one account

While I only use 3 of my 6 device slots, Nord allows you to use your account on 6 different devices. I personally use my phone, my tablet, and my laptop on NordVPN. Previously, I used my PC and iPod Touch as well when I had them.

Customer Service

You can reach Nord’s customer service through their website, app, and social medias. Their response time is pretty quick if not immediate, but sometimes you might stay in a queue for a few minutes. Nord is one of the most popular VPN services, but that doesn’t make their customer service time suffer. I had an issue with one of my new devices refusing to accept my login information and Nord had a solution really quickly!

Adding a second service is easy

Nord offers other services such as NordLocker (cloud storage) and NordPass (a password management software). Adding to your NordVPN plan is simple and often discounted. I used NordPass for a while before a free, local, and less-feature-intensive opensource software caught my eye during a period when I was making cuts to my budget.

Nord’s popularity

Nord’s popularity through their excellent service is what also drew me to them. When people think ‘VPN’, they usually think Nord and Express. Occasionally, Proton makes it up there too. VPN review videos on YouTube usually feature Nord, and YouTubers and content creators are promoting Nord’s services all the time.

When I was researching the right provider for a VPN and decided on Nord, I used the referral link of the creator that had convinced me on the service. I got Nord’s VPN service at a discount + some free months, and my signup gave the creator bonus months of service in exchange for the referral.

How to sign up for NordVPN

Head over to NordVPN’s website with someone’s referral link for a discount and some free bonus months. If I’m the person who influenced you to try NordVPN, I’d love it if you used my link! You’ll appear on a page that looks similar if not exactly like the image attached to this section.

Click “Get Free Months.”


Related content: Subscribe to NordVPN using Beka with At Full Milk’s referral link!


Then, in the tabbed menu, select your duration of subscription. You can do it by month, by year, or pay for two years. This is the pricing and bonus information at the time this post was written:

Monthly:

  • $12.99 a month for a Standard subscription
  • No bonus months

1-Year Plan

  • $4.49 a month for a Standard subscription (45% discount) for a total of $67.35 per payment
  • 3 bonus months (those are free!)

2-Year Plan

  • $2.99 a month for a Standard subscription (63% discount) for a total of $80.73 per payment
  • 3 bonus months (those are free!)
  • This 2-year plan is the plan I’ve always done and I’ve loved it!

Select your plan and it will redirect you to a page where you can select your payment method and create an account. You can also add more services here like password management, device security, and cloud storage. They currently allow payments through credit/debit cards, PayPal, AmazonPay, Google Pay, ACH transfer, and with crypto. If you’ve got an additional coupon, use it!

You are now a Nord customer. You’ve got a VPN — enjoy your newfound privacy! 🙂


I hope you found this post helpful. See you in the next one!

Beka

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