there is a point I would like to make and it may come across a bit harsh so forgive me as I'm going to try word it carefully. You said:
This bothered me a great deal to see you, anyone, say this. If you were to replace the word 'laptop' and 'technology' with the word 'islam' you would have made a beautiful statement. Go ahead and read it but instead of those words put 'islam' there and see what I mean lol. I hope that you see my point inshaAllah.
Anyway, I wanted to tell you as well that if you are not comfortable with the strictness of these schools, there is always al azhar in Egypt who don't care what you wear/drive/hairstyle/laptop which from what I know is a very beneficial place in terms of knowledge... Spiritually, however, probably not so much. And it is exactly these worldly things that take it away from being spiritual. Instead of making zhikr, one is surfing the net. Instead of wearing a thawb, one wears a suit, instead of doing extra homework, one is being a tourist. In studying Islam, I strongly believe that one has to forget the outside world for those few years. And I'm talking here from my own experience and from others.