Losing connection with your loved ones is not something that has to happen while you are away. Having an international internship will be a great experience whether or not you decide to talk with friends and family back home. Here are our tips for staying connected while abroad.
First things first, bring your cellphone! You can use your phone any time wi-fi is available, which is almost everywhere! When you do this, make sure to avoid charges by turning off your data & turning airplane mode on. After this is done you can use your phone to contact friends and family wherever there is internet (at home, the mall, cafes, etc…). Also, avoid problems with theft by purchasing phone insurance and keeping it password protected.
Free Applications: There are many international communication apps available for Apple and Android devices. After using these we have found the ones that work the best and those that still need some work. Our favorites include Viber, IMO, and Google Hangouts. All of these are easy to use and offer texting, calling, and video chatting through wi-fi. We suggest you use these to keep you connected with your family & friends as well as our program directors. Another form of communication that we use often is Skype. Skype was originally made for video chatting, making it one of the best. (Tip: If you are able to get to a computer, the quality on Skype will be much better than the other phone applications). An application that is still working out the kinks is Facebook Messenger. Through our experience, we have found that Facebook is harder to use than Viber, IMO, Google Hangouts, and Skype. We have experienced longer lags and louder echoes through this application. (Tip: Be sure to use headphones if you are going to rely on Facebook Messenger). Try all of these applications and find which one is best to help you stay connected while abroad.
Other Options: If you aren’t worried about spending some money, you can buy a cheap phone and the service to go with it. In some countries options are available to purchase just the service as long as you provide the phone. Types of service vary by price from affordable to expensive. The most basic service is usually for short distance calls within the country you are visiting. The more expensive service can include data plans in addition to long distance phone calls. When you purchase data, you will be able to use the international communication apps anywhere in the country. This may sound like a great idea, but be sure to keep your eye on the price. Fee’s for going over data or making long distance phone calls can be unpredictable and very expensive!
Be Old School! A fun way to stay connected with family & friends is through mail. Many times people forget about our post system. Take advantage of it and write a letter or even find a cool postcard from your favorite place. Be sure to include where you have been, what your job is like, and how much you are enjoying your time abroad. Your family will be elated to get a surprise piece of mail from another country!
There you have it, keeping in contact with friends and family at home is easy! There are many options from free to expensive and electronic to old fashioned. Intern abroad with us to use these communication applications first hand!