With technology it is easier than ever to communicate overseas. Communication can be done through telephone, cell phones, blogging, email, instant messages, mail, and video. It is important to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances at home.
Students need to be cautious on the amount of time communicating with friends and family. They need to immerse themselves into the culture. Communicating too much can interfere with the experience. The time differences, different modes of communication, traveling adventures, expenses, school work, and immersion play a factor in how much time should be spent in communicating.
Skype is an easy and inexpensive way to communicate. It can be downloaded to make free calls from a computer to another computer user that has Skype. Skype has great rates on phones and cell phones across the world.
Domestic and international phone calls in foreign countries are expensive compared to the US rates. There may not be a phone in the residences. A public pay phone should be close by the residences. Look into purchasing a calling card overseas or purchasing a phone card online.
Make sure the people who might call have the correct country code. How to call abroad explains international calling. Parents or family members might want to consider enrolling in an international long distance plan with one of the long distance carriers: AT&T, Sprint or MCI.
Cell phones are heavily used in the United States and abroad. In most other countries, cell phones are purchased along with phone cards with prepaid minutes. Using a cell phone can make it easier to connect with the students in the host country. A cell phone in the United States might work abroad. It is important to check with the cell phone provider to learn about international rates.
A blog is a public update of an experience. Document the adventures taken, describe the culture, post pictures, tell a story, or share the feelings about studying abroad on a blog.
Email should be accessible while abroad for a semester. Some institutions provide an email address to use while studying. Purdue email can still be accessed abroad. If using a different email, it is important to inform others. Depending on the location, email might be more limited. A computer lab may not be as close or open 24/7. Sometimes it is more convenient to go to internet cafes.
It is free and easy to use instant messaging. Some instant messaging providers are: MSN, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and AIM.
It can be exciting to receive and send mail abroad. Letters and postcards are cheaper than phone calls and are good keepsakes. Mail will take longer than mail within the United States. Mail should be marked 'air mail' to ensure it is sent as early as possible. Mail sent internationally must include the destination country. Do not send money or valuables as it can get lost.
Some students may choose to take a video camera to capture those moments spent abroad. Students can post a short video clip of their travels or stay on YouTube.