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How to stay in touch with friends and family back home while abroad
As you begin your study abroad experience you may find it difficult to keep in touch with the people back home, and that’s understandable. Busy travel and school schedules mixed with a 6+ hour time difference can make it hard to find time to keep everyone in your life updated in the way you used to.
Fortunately, there are ways around this dilemma.
Switch to a foreign SIM card
Sorting out your phone is a good place to start. The longer you’re in a country the more you’ll wish your phone worked like it did back home. If you’re only around for two weeks you can probably get away with relying on only wifi only but depending on which city you’re in the WiFi access may be slow or limited.
If you want to keep your US number, look into switching carriers to T-mobile.They offer an international plan that covers data and messaging in over 140 countries. Other carriers have international options as well, but are far more expensive, to the tune of $10 a day. Think how many drinks you’re wasting with that money.
The best option when you’re overseas is to get a local SIM card once you arrive but in order to switch to a foreign SIM card you’ll need to make sure that your phone is unlocked. You can do this fairly easily by visiting your carrier before you leave your home country.
Once you’re abroad you can purchase a SIM card at one of the providers’ stores, like Vodafone or Orange. The process is fairly simple and you’re usually done within 10 minutes but make sure to bring your passport.
From there you’ll be able to easily select a data package ranging anywhere from 10- 20 euros a month.You can always easily top up your data and your SIM should work across the EU so your phone works even if you’re in Amsterdam for the weekend.
Once you’ve got your new SIM card make sure to keep the package in or to take a picture off it because it will have the code to unlock your SIM if you restart your phone or it dies.
Figure out a time that works for you
Now that you’ve figured your phone situation out it’s time to tackle the next communication obstacle: the time difference. Telling someone to just “call me back when you’re free” likely won’t work in these situations because you’ll just end missing each other over and over.
Try to pick a time that works for you and stick to that so you can avoid voicemails and missed calls. The time you choose will obviously differentiate based on which country you’re in and what time zone those you want to communicate with are in.
Use apps to your advantage
Unless you wanna rack up a large phone bill making calls home, download Whatsapp which has both talk and text and video options. You can create an account with your US phone number and easily talk to whoever else has the app. Most of the world uses Whatsapp, yet somehow hasn’t made its way to popularity in the states yet.
Facetime is a great way to show your parents that you actually are alive and well. Plus there’s just something comforting about being able to see the person you’re talking to. The only thing to keep in mind when you’re on Facetime is your Wifi connection, if your wifi is shoddy it’s probably just easier to stick to Whatsapp.
Keeping in touch is more than just phone calls
Besides as a way to fill your friends with jealousy of your amazing semester, Instagram is an easy way to keep up with everyone back home and vice versa. Instagram offers seemingly effortless communication through comments, story replies and the every classic sliding in the DMs.
If your parents, aunts, uncles, whoever, are on instagram make no mistake they will be keeping up with everything you post so while you’re living your best life make an attempt to make it seem like you’re doing something besides partying.
Speaking of the fam, Facebook is a great place to share the 1000’s of photos you’ll end up taking while abroad. Facebook messenger can also serve as a decent means of communication with your network if your imessage is tweaking or you need to communicate with other friends abroad so you can plan that unforgettable trip to Oktoberfest together.
If technology isn’t the best medium for communicating with your loved ones,
Send them postcards from your location
Don’t you get a little excited when you get a hand-written note from someone you miss? Postcards are an opportunity to share a piece of your experience. They’re also easy to find, cheap as, and it takes minimal effort to jot down a few lines about your experience. Even if you don’t end up mailing them they’re fun to collect during your travels.
Still having trouble with staying in touch? Keep in mind that four months isn’t forever.
While technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected, don’t do so the expense of missing out on what’s right in front of you. You’ll be home sooner than you realize and your friends and family will be waiting to hear all about your amazing adventures so make sure to unplug and actually have some.
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