In this week's post, Katrina discusses the best ways to stay in touch with family and friends back home.
One of the things I was most anxious about before coming to London was how I was going to communicate with my family and friends back home. I was worried that it would be complicated or expensive, but luckily it’s a lot simpler than I expected.
My flatmates and I decided to wait until we got to London to get our phones sorted out. I know people who got international plans before leaving, but my research found them to be more expensive than getting a new SIM card or swapping to a UK number. My advice is not to get an international plan because it actually over-complicates communicating with people, especially people in London (some international plans work to text back home, but still charge a fee to text UK numbers).
Tons of UK companies offer “pay as you go” or “month to month” options which work quite well for students. I opted for a pay as you go plan with Three that includes talk, text and data. I find myself using mostly data and it’s really nice that I’m able to iMessage my friends from home using both data and wifi. For friends who aren’t iPhone users, there are plenty of messaging apps. I personally haven’t used any apps for texting, but have been able to message my non-iPhone friends via Facebook messenger and email. Snapchat messenger is another app I find myself using more than I thought I would, since it also works with wifi.
For phone calls outside the UK I use FaceTime (audio and/or video). Most of the time this works quite well, but it is frustrating at times to rely on the spotty wifi in my flat. The video call will often freeze, or the audio call will cut out for periods of time before reconnecting. Other than periodically freezing, the connection is pretty clear.
I’ve had plenty of opportunity to FaceTime friends from my home school and family members. Some friends I talk to a few times a week; others I’ve just spoken to once or twice. It’s always a little sad speaking to friends back at Rollins, but all of my friends are so supportive, genuinely interested in what I’m doing and excited for me! It doesn’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything at Rollins because London is so full of new experiences and opportunities.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far regarding communication is to be present in the moment. When chatting with family and friends from home, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on at home and feel like you’re missing out on something by taking the semester to study abroad. In reality, the opposite is true; spending the semester in London has afforded me so many new opportunities— and I keep reminding myself that I have three more semesters at Rollins to enjoy the things going on there.
Katrina's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.