Modern technology has made keeping in touch with family and friends while abroad much easier and much quicker -- perhaps sometimes too easy and too quick. Be certain to give yourself time to experience your time abroad before calling, emailing, or blogging. With that said, here are some tips on communicating during your experience abroad.
The International Education Office will only use your TLU email address for email communication. You must keep your TLU account open and clear to accept messages. You will probably have less access to the internet abroad than you are used to. Try to get into the habit of using email less frequently over the length of your stay to help you transition.
We strongly encourage all students abroad to have a working cell phone with them for use in an emergency. Some of our program providers offer a phone as part of the program.
- Perhaps the easiest -- and least expensive -- cell phone option is to purchase a simple pay-as-you-go phone when you arrive in your host country. These phones are generally inexpensive, provide you with a local phone number, and good rates for texting. However, they may not offer good rates for international calling and generally don't have all the features of today's smartphones. When your program ends, you can often donate the phone to local organizations or pass it along to another student going abroad.
- It is also possible to take your current phone with you, so long as it is a global phone. However, you will likely need to change your calling, text, and data plans, and the international plans offered by many US carriers tend to give good rates for making or receiving international calls (e.g., calling the US from the UK), but not for making local calls while overseas (calling someone in the same city as you).
- Finally, if you have a smartphone while abroad, we suggest you turn off all push functions and data roaming, and use the phone only when you have a Wi-Fi signal.
- Another alternative, if you have a global phone that is unlocked, is to purchase a local SIM card when you arrive. Again, this will give you a local number and good rates for local calls and texts. It is also possible to purchase SIMs for many smartphones.
Phone cards with access numbers overseas are one of the cheaper options for calling home. Look into offers from the standard companies (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) or global calling card providers (Zaptel, IDT, Ekit). Of course, the least expensive form of communication is to use a video chat service like Skype or Facebook.
Communicating with Your Family
Email and cell phones now allow students to keep in touch with family and friends back home more than ever before. Be cautious of how much time you spend talking to those from back home. If you focus too much on home it can become a detriment of truly being present in your experience abroad. Consider writing frequent letters and postcards, which can be reread and kept as a record of your time abroad. Letters and other forms of ‘snail mail’ allow you to keep in touch while giving you space to grow in your encounter with a new culture.
Please plan family visits to your study abroad site during official vacation periods when you are free to spend time with them and not during the academic session. Visits by family or friends do not count as acceptable excuses for missing class sessions or exams.
- About Study Abroad
- Study Abroad Programs
- Preparing for Study Abroad
- Returning from Abroad
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