It's summer and you just signed on for your first study abroad. You're going away in a few months and are already dreaming about the freedoms of living in another country for a semester. But then the reality sets in: how will you stay connected to the mainland once you're thousands of miles away? Who will fill you in on the dorm room gossip? How will you remember your aunt Claudia's birthday without a friendly reminder from your mom? Below we give you our top tips for staying connected while you're living it up overseas!
1. Skype Home Tours
Whether you’re staying with a host family or in a dorm, people are going to want a tour. Set up a Skype session and walk them through your humble abode. Pro tip: Make sure your living quarters has the proper Internet connection before you log on. You don’t want to be sucking up the bandwidth while other students need to be working. Not cool.
2. InstaLesson of the Day
We know your friends are stalking your every pic while you’re away wishing they were there too, so give them something fun to look forward to! Rather than doing a photo dump every night on your Facebook page and Instagram feed—talk about social media overload—post a lesson of the day. From a new word learned, to a historical fact, or a great brand of chocolate, give your social media friends useful info from your trip. They’ll be hanging on every word!
3. Free Wi-Fi Finder App
A big part of staying connected is finding a reliable Wi-Fi source. If you’re not in the mood to coffee shop hop, try downloading this app that will help you find an Internet hotspot wherever you happen to be! The best part, it works online or off.
4. Stay Current
Twitter is a great way to stay connected not only with your crew, but also with the news. Follow top sources like The New York Times (@nytimes) and CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk), in addition to vetting local new Twitter handles, to stay informed about trending topics at home and in your surrogate country.
Staying connected while studying abroad can lead to one expensive cellphone bill. Avoid that AND stay in touch by downloading the textPlus app, and get unlimited free texting and calling. Plus you can do it all over WiFi and avoid those expensive data bills, too. Just because you're an ocean away doesn't mean you can't stay in the loop.
6. Virtual Dinner Dates
Missing your mom’s homemade meals while you’re away? We can’t send her pot-pie overseas, but we can suggest you gather your friends and family for a virtual dinner date. You might be eating breakfast while they’re dining on dinner, but catching up over a meal is a great way to keep them in the loop!
7. Good Old Fashioned Postcards, Done Digital
If you’re anything like us, postcards are great in theory, but remembering to buy and mail them? Forget it! So what better way to send a postcard than by snapping a phone pic, adding a wish-you-were-here greeting and texting it to your friends and family? We guarantee they’ll appreciate the message and the unique view, instead of a humdrum store-bought postcard.