Staying in touch with your loved ones while you are studying abroad is one of the most important aspect to keep you from feeling homesick or lonely. Even if you make new friends and colleagues in classes, nothing can replace the support of your family and friends back home. Here are some of the easiest and cheapest methods to stay in touch with people that matter to you.
One of the easiest and most convenient way to stay in touch with family and friends back home is by mobile phone. It is better to buy a local SIM card from any local provider and ditch the one you use at home, because roaming fees are really high and will drain your student account fast. With a local card you pay lower fees and take advantage of special offers and discounts.
This way the loved ones home can reach you anytime they need and you can call them or text whenever you miss them or want to tell them how great you did on finals or ask them for advice before you embark on something new.
Make use of the Internet
Every student has a laptop nowadays, so whether you stay at the University dormitories or rent all you need is an Internet connection and the most popular and convenient application: Skype. You can make free video-calls and chat as much as you like for free.
If you live by yourself or with roommates in an apartment and don’t have Internet subscription, you can go to the library. Most (if not all university libraries) provide free Internet that you can use to stay in touch, besides doing research for your assignments and writing papers. You may not have enough privacy, but it beats having to pay insane amounts of money for a few minutes of international calls.
If you have a smartphone there is Viber, a free and easy to use app for making calls and sending text messages as long as you find a free WiFi hot-spot or subscribe to a 3G data plan. If you don’t have a smartphone, consider getting one as it is a great investment. Take notice of offers by phone carriers and get a great phone with a monthly payment. You will have it for life and will make your life so much easier, as well as communication.
Email is another way you can utilize to stay in touch with friends, as it can lead to a two-way conversation. Whenever you have time, for example after finals or on weekends send an email to your best friends and tell them about how you are doing as well as be interested in what is going on in their life too. Try to maintain a relationship even if it looks hard as friends are the ones that will support you when you most need them. Good relationships are reciprocal, so support them whenever you can.
Send them photos
Sharing your photos with the people you care has never been easier thanks to the Internet and a variety of free applications and online tools and definitely better than sending large attachments by e-mail.
Dropbox is the most used application for sharing photos (among other files, such as videos) and the basic account is free and you get 2GB of storage space. Uploading photos is easy to your Dropbox account – just plug in your camera, memory card or smartphone – chose with whom you share certain photos. The best thing about Dropbox is that it works on any device, be it computers, smartphones or tablets. All your files on all the devices you own are on sync constantly and available anywhere, so if you lose your phone or your laptop gets stolen you can easily recover your photos – the memories that can not be re-lived or experienced again.
If you use Windows then use the Windows live Photo gallery, to organize, edit and create online photo albums. You can upload up to 500 photos in one month and easily create custom photo albums and slide shows for certain occasions such as your traveling or student life photo albums. Chose unique and beautiful background and add effects to your photos.
iPhoto for Mac computers is the best application for 1-click creation of photo-albums, photo-books and beautiful postcards. What good is a camera without a photo album? You can chose from hundreds of gorgeous templates for postcards and calendars and even make your photos ready for printing. If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, surely a printed one is worth more.
Sometimes a phone call or text message is not enough for those special occasions, like anniversaries and birthdays. Writing a letter or sending a postcard is a great way to show how much you care and love your friends and family back home. Surely with the ease of use of technology, sending things by mail may seem a little old-fashioned but it adds a personal touch and is more effective than the bits and bytes of an e-mail.
It’s hard to keep in touch and over time things may not seem like they used to be, but remind yourself of the reasons that you are studying abroad and list all the positive things such an education will have for your future career and life.
It’s good to keep a list of all these things, write them down and read them whenever you get really homesick and lonely. Remind your family and friends about these too as they will understand and support you. These are free or relatively cheap methods to stay in touch while you are overseas studying that will help you in beating homesickness, loneliness as well as not losing friends until you go back to your home country.