Communication Tools While Abroad
Students have the option of determining their communication tools before they leave the U.S. The CGE has conducted some preliminary research about the various options which are available to students; the information included below should be considered as a starting off-point to better understand the options which are out there. Many students choose to use their U.S. cellphones while abroad and simply use WiFi to communicate with one another and with family and friends at home. However, an important thing to consider is how you will communicate when there isn't WiFi and there is an emergency; having a data plan or a local phone with texting/calling capabilities is very helpful.
Using Your U.S. Cell Phone Abroad
Students can choose to upgrade their current plan (depending on the type of phone they currently have or the provider they currently use) or purchase a phone and have a temporary plan which they can use while they are abroad. This information was obtained directly from the cellphone providers' websites. Students should conduct research to learn more about available options, the costs associated with them, and which one would work best in terms of host country and personal usage.
Here are some of the available options from the major U.S. carriers:
- AT&T Passport offers monthly rates which feature unlimited texting, high-speed data, and discounted calling rates. The monthly rates depend on how much data you purchase.
- Verizon offers two different options, TravelPass and International Travel Preferred. TravelPass works well in European countries and enables students to add an additional fee on top of their monthly plans and still use the same talk/text/data plan they currently use in the U.S. International Travel Preferred is for those students going to non-European destinations and allows students to add talk/text/data options for additional monthly rates.
- T-Mobile Simple Choice offers the same plan internationally as they do in the U.S.: unlimited data and text as well as talk at an additional fee. However, students should check to make sure that T-Mobile offers service in their host city (not just country).
Students who have an Android phone have the option of replacing their current SIM card (which can be found when you open up the phone, usually where the battery is located) with an international SIM card, which would allow them to have different rates for talk/text/data; they would not be using their U.S. cellphone plan. SIM cards are offered by a variety of different companies with different rates; students should do thorough research to understand the different rates for which they will be responsible. Some of the more often used companies include OneSimCard, Cellhire, National Geographic SIM Card, and Telestial.
Buying a Phone When You Arrive On-Site
Students also have the option of purchasing a phone while they are abroad. These phones are usually fairly basic and can be obtained cheaply at local cell phone stores or larger, multipurpose stores (Target/Walmart equivalents abroad). These phones are usually "pay as you go" for calls, texts, and data and students can easily top off their phones at most convenience stores.
Useful Apps These phone apps allow students to communicate with others using either data or while they are on WiFi. They can be easily downloaded from the iOS or Droid app stores.