“I’m at a payphone trying to call home, all of my change I spent on you…”
Let’s keep this scenario and these popular lyrics at home in America. Here is what you should know about how to keep your dearly beloveds up-to-date with your faraway life:
Skype is probably the most widely used form of international communication to date. Skype offers free international calls to other Skype users (free program download and username creation), and all that is necessary of each user is an Internet connection. The very user-friendly program also offers free messaging, and for an additional fee, you have the freedom of calling international landlines and adding a personal voice mailbox. Additionally, you can download a mobile version of Skype on many smartphones, for which mobile providers charge a small fee per minute. In addition to regular calls, Skype has a video feature for those with Internet connection that is fast enough.
Prepaid Calling cards:
This option is generally affordable and available in many countries. The disadvantage of using a calling card is that calls must be made outside of your own space, such as on a payphone outside or in a local café or news shop.
National cell phone (country specific):
If you will be away for a semester or more, you will most likely be purchasing a local phone (prepay or contract) to stay in touch with people you meet, your host family, or your classmates. You can make international calls from this type of phone, but it will be costly.
International cell phones are expensive but a great option for those who frequently travel to different countries where a country-specific phone wouldn’t do much good. International cell phones operate in more than one country by way of a removable SIM card. In each country, you will need to buy a local SIM card and you can then make your calls.
You can text anyone who also has a BlackBerry phone for free through BlackBerry Messaging (BBM). You will, however, be charged a high rate for calls, even if you are calling another BlackBerry user.
Handwritten letters are old fashioned but oh so romantic and nostalgic! Despite this slow method of communication, you will have these letters to look back on forever. Everyone appreciates a foreign postcard, too.
This has replaced the old AOL Instant Messenger, given the amount of people using Facebook these days. This messenger service could be a potential way to communicate home due to its recently released video plug-in. Each user will need to download this plug-in and be online at the same time in order to video chat.
What is your preferred method to reaching family and friends at home and why?