U.S. Cell Phones
Before departure, students are advised to consult their cell phone provider to discuss their options and the costs related to taking a U.S. cell phone overseas. There are often additional costs and fees related to using a U.S. cell phone abroad. Students should consider all options before bringing their U.S. cell phone to another country.
Getting a Cell Phone Abroad
Students may consider renting or buying a pay-as-you-go or prepaid phone in their study destination. It is a very common practice to find an affordable alternative to taking a U.S. phone abroad. It is advised to check with the host institution or study abroad program provider for cell phone recommendations for the study destination.
Alternatives to Cell Phones
Some students may want to consider ditching a cell phone altogether when studying abroad. There are many alternatives to cell phones to stay in communication with others, such as email, phone cards, social media, and blogs.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOiP) platforms such as Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, and WhatsApp are all alternative platforms for audio, video, and group conversations that occur over the internet without the need for a cell phone. It is best to set up and test a few of these platforms on your personal devices before leaving the U.S. so that you are prepared once you are abroad and connected to the internet.
Internet connectivity is available nearly worldwide and many countries also have WiFi available in common public spaces. However, you may not have access to WiFi or the internet in the same ways that you do at home. It’s important to find out from your host institution, homestay family, and/or study abroad program provider where internet connectivity may be blocked or slow as well as if any firewall protection settings may prevent you from accessing certain websites. Remember to also be cautious when using public Wi-Fi connections. It is advised to never transmit financial or other sensitive personal information over a public network.
Before leaving, check that you have appropriate plug-ins/adapters, batteries, connectors, and removable storage for your device(s) to ensure that you can properly charge and connect to them in your study destination. Please refer to World Power Plugs to find out which adapters you will need.