One of the hardest parts of first arriving in the UK is missing family and friends. In today’s world, we can speak to anyone whenever we want! There are so many ways to stay connected with everyone back home. When our ATP Advisors studied abroad, the majority found the easiest communication tool was Facebook, followed by an app called WhatsApp- both will be discussed in more detail below, but before that here is some information on getting your phone set up.
Getting a Phone
If you have an unlocked phone at home already, all you need to do is get a British SIM card. Giffgaff, which is a low-cost, no contract phone provider in the UK, offers their SIM cards for free. Plans range from £10-20 a month and include all the features you might need. Each month you can decide which ‘goodybag’ you want for your specific needs, and change it whenever you need to. If you don’t have an unlocked phone, you can buy one in the UK from a number of providers.
With a working phone with a data plan, you can use things like Facebook and Facebook Messenger to send a quick message to family and friends. It’s a great way to say hi or tell them something cool that happened that day, not to mention sharing all of your photos from your adventures!
Texting and WhatsApp
You also have the option of using WhatsApp. It is an app which essentially works like texting but is free (on WiFi or within your data allowance), so instead of opening your messages you can text from WhatsApp. If you have an iPhone and want to talk to another iPhone user, this is also an option without any fees. You can iMessage regularly without any international fees as long as you’re on data or wifi.
Calling and Skype
Sometimes messaging your loved ones is not enough, and you’ll want to hear their voices and see their faces whilst studying overseas in Britain. Pets’ faces, too! Video calling like FaceTime (via Apple devices) or Skype are both options that don’t cost anything! When there isn’t enough time for a video chat, or someone you want to contact isn’t on a computer, you can always use MagicJack. This is a free voice calling app (there is a paid version and a free version) for phone calls without international fees. Dial a number within the app, and the person you are calling will receive the call without having to accept any charges or get billed. It’s worth mentioning that WhatsApp also now also has a calling feature.
There are many different ways to stay in touch with everyone at home. If one option doesn’t work for one person, there will always be another way! Speaking to everyone and staying up to date with each other helps to adjust to living in a different country without them. If it ever feels like it’s too difficult, or your homesickness is particularly strong one day, remind yourself that hey – at least you aren’t writing snail mail!
And remember, if you would like to find out more details about any aspect of studying in the UK, please contact one of our Advisors.