Communication While Abroad

hear no evil speak no evil see no evil

It's great to have so many options to keep in touch with loved ones back home: texting, Facetime, calling, emailing, blogging and sharing photos. It will be helpful to have a plan in mind before you leave of how you will stay in touch with friends and family back home. Your program will have the best advice on which of the following are realistic:

Cell Phone Options

  • Get an international plan on your current phone: Your cell phone company here in the states might have an international plan available. Just be sure to talk to your provider about calling, texting, and data rates - they can range greatly depending on where you are in the world and costs can add up quickly.
  • Buy a cheap phone/SIM locally: Another option may be to purchase a phone once you arrive or a SIM card if your phone is unlocked.
  • Purchase a phone specifically for your trip: There are companies that allow you to purchase an "international" cell phone and a compatible SIM card before departure that you can use overseas. Some companies offer deals although this may not be the most cost-effective option — it is often cheaper to purchase your phone locally.
  • A phone may be provided by your program: Check with your program to see if it plans to distribute cell phones to all students.You can also check with your program to see what other students have used in the past.
  • Tip: If you are planning to take your own cell phone, make sure it is unlocked before departure. Some cell phones require a certain amount of lead time or a number of payments to be made prior to unlocking yoru phone. Your cell phone provider can give you more information.

Things to Remember

As a college student in the U.S., you are probably used to 24/7 contact with others whether it be through email, text, Tik Tok, Instagram or Facebook. While these forms of instant communication are invaluable, staying in touch with home can have an unexpected negative effect on your ability to become fully immersed in your host culture. Consider resisting the temptation to spend so much time online while you are away.

Test your boundaries until you find a good balance between staying in touch with friends and family back home and having enough time away from a computer or cell phone to ensure you are getting the most out of your time away. The right balance will be different for everyone!

Also, please note that not every location will have wifi connections that are as strong or reliable. Expect differences for yourself and communicate with your friends and family that there may be periods with less connection.