We know that studying in the UK means being away from friends and family, so you will want to have a few tips and tricks to stay in touch back home. Remember, as reference, London is five hours ahead of New York and eight hours ahead of Los Angeles.
The internet is one of the easiest ways to keep in contact with loved ones back home. If you don’t have it already, you can download Skype on either a Mac or a PC, as well as download the app for your phone. Skype is wonderful for those moments when you need to see a familiar face and talk to those people you need most during your UK university experience. Basic Skype is free and you can even get a US/Canadian number so your family and friends can call your skype number for free. You can also use Skype as a messaging service, if you aren’t feeling that chatty.
Another great tool that you probably already utilize is Facebook Messenger. Again, you can access messenger from your computer or through the app that can be downloaded to your phone. Messengers can be sent even when the receiver is offline, so you can send news to your family and friends and they will wake up to an exciting message waiting for them!
As for your phone, there are a few options into which you can look:
If you want to continue to use your smartphone in the UK, you should ask your phone carrier (before leaving) if you can unlock your North American phone; you can then buy a UK SIM card and pop this into your phone to use during your studies. You may also need to get the code necessary to do this once you get to the UK and get a SIM card. (Note: if you have Verizon, you have limited options for popping out your SIM card; make sure to double check to see if you have a phone with this capability before leaving.) However, for some providers, this will not be an option.
In terms of contract phones, while they may appear to be less expensive over the long run, bear in mind it can be tricky to get one as an international student. You will likely need to do a credit check and since you do not have UK credit, they may ask you to pay a deposit.
If you can’t unlock your current phone and if you do not want to put up with the hassle of trying to get a contract, you should consider a pay as you go phone. A pay as you go phone is a great option for students who are going to be in the UK for a limited amount of time, as they are cheaper, and many phone networks, such as the Three network have special deals for minutes and texting through monthly add-ons plans that give you great deals with data, minutes, and texting.
You should also download Whatsapp in order to text internationally. The first year of texting is free! Whatsapp also now has international calling available, making it even better for keeping in touch with your family and friends.
We know that staying in touch with friends and family is one of the most important concerns about which new students worry, however our Advisors have plenty of tricks and suggestions to help American students stay connected during their UK university experience. To find out more about studying in the UK contact one of our Advisors.