Being an expat means learning to live without. Your old friends, your family, many of your favorite foods, all gone. That’s why the occasional Skype session, or care-package can mean so much. It’s a taste of home. One bit of home that we can get, with some work, is television.
While many American TV shows have made their way onto Dutch stations, a large number have not. Even the ones you can find over here, such as Mad Men, True Blood, and The Office are usually delayed by quite a bit. When I first moved over here, Mad Men was in the middle of a season. The Dutch channel FOXlife carried it, but it was at least 6-8 episodes behind the US. True Blood airs over here, but only after the complete season has finished airing in the US. The same goes for Community.
Luckily, technology has made watching American TV shows fairly simple. I have an Apple TV hooked up to my TV. This allows me to watch any show I have on my computer through the TV. Additionally, any video I can play on my iPad can be wirelessly streamed to the TV as well.
Some shows I can pull up right from the network’s own website on my iPad, hit ‘play’, and then they pop right up on the TV. Nice and legal. Other shows are either not available online, or blocked from playing outside the US. This is where BitTorrent comes in. Using software named Vuze, I can download television shows a few hours after they air in the US, with commercials removed. Vuze automatically converts and imports the videos into iTunes, so they are available on my Apple TV every night.
After a hard day of work (or shopping), it’s nice to come back to the apartment and get a little hit of home, courtesy of my favorite network dramas, comedies, and reality shows. I can stay up to date on Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Top Chef, and be able to discuss the latest plot twists in Once Upon a Time, Mad Men, and The Mentalist.
Now, if technology could only figure out a way to download me a Jimmy John’s sandwich…