Phones & Communication
How to use your phone without paying top dollar
Students need to keep in touch with family and friends while in Europe. And with today's technology, it's often very easy AND very cheap.
Wondering how to call your mom back home? We can help!
Skype is a Godsend for communicating with loved ones back home. In addition, if you have a snazzy new Mac or a nice laptop, you can use the built in video camera to get face to face time in with your loved ones in the states.
iPods and iPhones are actually great tools to use while traveling. With your iPhone, be sure to always have it in Airplane mode except if you need to make an emergency call. Otherwise, AT&T will glady charge you upwards of $700 for a single month's usage--I speak from experience. I recently backpacked through South America, and it cost me less than $8 in Skype credit making daily calls back home with earphone buds and a mic. Facetime on iPhones is also an awesome way to check in with those back in the States, and it's free!
Cell phones in Europe are generally on a credit purchase basis. You don't pay to receive calls or SMS, but you're usually charged a connection fee, plus a per minute rate for calls. You're also charged per SMS when you send texts as well. Using a cell phone to call home is never an affordable option--unless you're on a plan that includes that. Something else to keep in mind is how quick your credit expires. For example, Virgin Mobile in France has a system that expires your credit after 30 days. Maneouvers like these are meant to push customers to monthly subscription plans.
If you want to bring your cell from home, you need to make sure it is "unlocked" (able to use other SIM cards), and a "tri" or "quad" band. Most cell phones made in the last few years are tri band phones. And unless you have an iPhone, unlocking your cell usually just takes a call to your cell provider. Verizon is one carrier that you can't use overseas, but they can send you an international phone for "free" to use minus shipping costs if you are going on a relatively short trip. The costs to use it overseas are a bit higher than at home.
Also, check out Tinychat, a free video chat room service--it's a great way to keep in touch with your friends as you study abroad!
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