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Communications


When studying far from home for a prolonged period of time, you can expect to feel homesick from time to time. When this happens, one of the best ways to combat homesickness is to talk to a family member or close friend from back home. Thankfully, there are now plenty of apps and programs that allow you to communicate with people anywhere in the world for free.

Here are some of the best communications options:

Skype

Skype is probably one of the most popular methods of communication used today. Skype allows you to have a face-to-face conversation with your family and friends. Seeing faces and hearing voices can be extremely comforting when you’re feeling homesick, even if you can’t touch the person you’re talking to.

Skype also offers a text-based chat, which can be useful if you or the person you’re talking to doesn’t have access to a webcam.

Google Hangouts

Like Skype, this is a video and voice calling service, but it allows you to connect with several people via webcam at once. This is a great way to hang out a couple of friends at once, which is especially useful if you’re all studying in different places!

Additionally, Google Hangouts allows you to share your screen, as well as offering apps to play games together and Google effects so you can add masks and sounds to your Hangout.

Viber

Viber is a smartphone application that allows you to make free calls over a Wi-Fi or data connection. However, the other person must also have Viber installed on their phone in order for a call to be received.

WhatsApp

This is a free texting application available for smartphones. Like Viber, it uses Wi-Fi or data connections, and like Viber, it requires both parties to have the app installed on their phones.

Snapchat

Snapchat is an app that allows you to send updates to your friends and family through snapshots. These pictures only stay on the receiver’s phone for a few seconds, so you can be as quirky and weird as you want.

Mobile Phones/Sim Cards

If you have a tri or quad band GSM mobile phone, you will most likely be able to take your current mobile phone with you and simply insert a new sim card. You can find more information on our prepaid phone and SIM card resources pages.

Snail Mail

Sometimes it’s nice to revert back to simple pen and paper. Your friends and family will appreciate that you took the time to sit down and write them a letter that they can keep and reread forever, and it can feel more personal than sending an email. You might even consider asking your friends and family to write to you; this way, you’ll have a nice reminder of home on days that are particularly rough.

For more information on communication solutions for the USA, including providers that can offer service to international students, please see our communication center for students.

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