Travis Stalcup: Hi! I'm Travis Stalcup with IES Abroad. Today I'm talking about how to prepare for a semester abroad and now I'm going to talk about ways you can stay in touch with friends and family while studying abroad.
You'll want to stay in touch with friends and family back in the US during the semester, summer or year you are studying abroad. There are many ways you can stay connected.
If you're bringing a computer you may want to use a free Internet-based provider such as Skype to make international calls. If you have a web camera and a microphone, a voice over Internet provider can be a cost-effective and fun way to stay in touch. Email too can be accessed through local or university computers, Internet cafes or even in your home, say a residence hall.
For those who also want to share pictures and videos, setting up a blog prior to departure may be the right path for you. Some universities and program providers offer students this option. But there are also many blog sites that you can set up on your own. Some simple web research will turn up a list of these blog sites.
Another popular way that students studying abroad can stay in touch is to use a cell phone. You can buy one in the country where you'll study or bring one from the US. A low-cost alternative to buying or renting a cell phone abroad is to use a SIM card. You'll need to find out if your current phone is compatible with using a SIM card.
If you get a cell phone prior to departure, you will be able to provide cell phone numbers to family and friends before leaving home. If you experience flight delays or problems during travel, you can contact your program-staff or family at home. It can also come in handy if you travel after the program.
If you get a cell phone after you arrive in your host country, you may receive a less expensive rate for calls in some locations. A local provider may provide faster service and technical assistance than a US-based provider. A simple method of staying in touch is to send a postcard; complete with a stamp, postmark, and personal reflections on your experiences.
Staying in touch with friends and family at home is an important part of studying abroad and I hope I have given you some ideas for ways that you can share your experiences.