Even if you’re having a great time, you’ll of course want to speak with your family and friends back home while you’re studying abroad. You’ll want to let them know you’re ok but also tell them about all of the fun adventures you’re having! Here’s how to keep in touch with your family and friends while studying abroad.
Call via Skype and Facetime
Just about everyone these days knows that you can use Skype or iPhone’s Facetime app for video calls at no cost. But did you know that you can also use Skype to call phones for super cheap? Depending on your location and what country you are calling, you can purchase Skype Credit and call landlines or cell phones for as little as pennies a minute. This is perfect for calling someone in an emergency when they aren’t in front of a computer, or to speak to someone who doesn’t have a smart phone, like your older family members with flip phones and landlines. You can use that credit to text cell phones in the US too.
Download the Skype app to your phone and you can use it just like a phone whenever you have wifi– perfect for when you are traveling and don’t have your computer with you.
Text via WhatsApp and iMessage
WhatsApp is a must-have when studying abroad. It allows you to text internationally through your data plan, letting you keep in contact with friends and family all over the world without charging you for international texting. It also works with wifi, and even if your phone is not connected to the internet, WhatsApp will notify you of incoming texts once it is. Get your parents and friends back in the states to download it to keep in touch easily. Just be sure to download the app before heading abroad if you won’t be able to receive texts in your new country, as you’ll need to verify your phone number through SMS text.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can also use iMessage while connected to wifi only. Just be sure to turn off the “send as SMS” option in your settings, so that you don’t accidentally send your message as (an expensive) text!
Have group calls with Google+ Hangout
Did you know that Google+ Hangouts lets you video chat with up to ten people? Perfect for catching up your high school friends who go to different colleges, or so that you can explain the same story to your family members just ONCE… you probably don’t want to spend all of your time Skyping every cousin, aunt, and fraternity brother you have.
Skype also allows group calls, but everyone on the call will need to download the software for it to work. Google+ can sometimes be easier to set up, especially because all you need for it is a Gmail account and to download a small plug-in.
Read next: What to Pack for Study Abroad