Tag Archives: Keep In Touch

Communication Abroad

8 Oct

For worrisome parents, loving grandparents and close friends, communication is everything. Naturally, our family and friends want to be able to keep in touch with us throughout our time abroad. Thankfully, times have changed and we don’t have to rely on “snail mail” to hear from our loved ones. Modern technology has given us the tools to communicate across the world in real-time.

Skype | Skype4Free.com

Video Chatting

I have to admit, seeing my Mom, Dad and dog’s faces after one month of being abroad in Barcelona, eased my mind. By no means was I homesick, but it was comforting to see familiar faces. Instead of spending half an hour on the phone with your loved one, which mind you will cost them/you a lot of money, video chatting services, such as, Skype and Oovoo are free (provided you use the basic plan), and allow for face-to-face communication.

Facebook’s Video Call | Albamedia.net

Facebook’s “video call” and some email services, also have video chatting capabilities.

Phone

You may already be able to send and receive calls all around the world depending upon what type of phone you have – lucky you! Most phone companies offer international phone plans at an additional cost. Unfortunately, I did not have an international phone plan. Instead,  I purchased an international SIM card. International SIM cards are available from Telestial, Lebara and a number of other companies (Google search it!). Lebara’s SIM card gave me the option to “pay as you go” and to put money on my phone online. I used the Lebara SIM with my phone from home (Samsung Galaxy II). My parents were able to call me for free at any time, and I was able to call and text anywhere in the world as long as I had money on my phone. Most European supermarkets will put money on your phone. Another option, is to purchase a phone abroad. Several students I went abroad with purchased a Vodafone cell phone for 20 euros ( in Spring 2012). They too were able to put money on their phone at the supermarket.

Whether you plan on purchasing a phone or using a SIM card, I suggest using your phone only when necessary. I’ve heard from a number of students that they rarely used their phone because they kept in touch with family through Skype, and met up with other study abroad students through Facebook and other social networking platforms. Phone calls can get costly, and unlike students in the States, study abroad students use their phones infrequently.

WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging 
app for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and other smartphones. The application allows users to send, text, and video/image message each other from anywhere in the world. The greatest thing about WhatsApp is that you can text your friends and family from home, just as you would if you were in the States.

Also, a lot of countries use WhatsApp as there main method of communication. My cousin living in Barcelona, texts me all the time using WhatsApp. Download WhatsApp for iPhone here – $0.99/year). Download WhatsApp for Android here – First year FREE! ($0.99/year after).

Email

Although email, is not always accessible while traveling, email is the one consistent form of communication I had with my family. I frequently used email to update my parents and friends on my weekly activities, and to send them flight information. Email is also the best way to keep in touch with your university advisors and abroad coordinator(s). Email your advisors about the status of transfer credits, course enrollment, etc. My abroad coordinator regularly emailed me about community trips and abroad meet-ups.

Before going abroad…

  • Make a list of emergency contacts, including your parents, university advisors, abroad coordinator, and abroad roommates.
  • Check your phone company’s policy on “roaming charges” and international phone plans.
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