Moving to the United States for college and university is a very exciting prospect but can also be very intimidating for most students leaving home for the first time. (Read our post: College is Hard, You Will Cry) While most other freshman at your college are in the same situation, it can be even more difficult for international students dealing with both the culture shock and being so far away from family and friends. Here are some easy tips for staying in touch with people across the globe:
- Research different cell phone plans once you arrive. The US phone system is a little different from most other countries, and most service providers still require you to sign a contract for 1 or 2 years. While there are plenty of “pay as you go” options, some may end up being more expensive if you use your phone often. In the US minutes are used up/charge for incoming calls as well as outgoing.
There are some national companies that have service all over the United States, but service can be better or worse in certain regions depending on whether the carrier has a large presence or not. Its usually best to wait until you are in your dorm and ask others what service seems to work best on campus.
- Download Skype at http://www.skype.com its free to use from computer to computer, and to use from computer to phone is quite inexpensive as well. To use it from computer to phone, you will have to buy a Skype calling card, click here to see the rates to your country http://skype.com/price . Most newer laptops have a built in microphone, but you may choose to purchase one, or use your blue tooth headset.
- Buy a phone card you will be able to use this with your cell phone and keep your calls back to your home country very low.
Be careful when buying your card, as there are many scams involving phone cards. There are many legitimate sites like www.uniontelecard.com that allow you to compare rates and phone cards.
- Using a webcam many newer laptops (even lower cost ones) come pre-equipped with one, which will allow you to not just speak but see your loved ones as well. If your laptop does not already have a webcam you can purchase one from most online stores in the United States or from any electronics or office supply store near your campus.
- Social Media & Email these are quite obvious for keeping in touch with friends, but if your parents have not yet chosen to jump on the personal email or social media (Facebook, bebo, Orkut) you may be able to convince them to do so now. It will help you in keeping your family connections close, and allowing you to receive a virtual hug if you ever feel lonely or far away from everyone.