Thursday, 10 September 2015

Communicating While at Harlaxton

An easy guide to keeping in touch with family and friends back home and at Harlaxton

The Importance of Technology and Communication While Abroad

When you are abroad, it is easy to get sucked into this secret world that is Harlaxton. In such a connected world, it is so easy to communicate and I think we take it for granted sometimes. When it comes to being abroad, here are some things to consider:
  •  Do you need a phone with data, texting and/or calling ability?
  •  Do you normally talk a lot with friends and family?
  •  How often would you say you use social media sites like Facebook? How about photo sharing websites?
  •  Do you plan on using GPS or any location app?
  •  How do you plan on booking trips/making reservations on weekends?
What I’m Doing

I knew that I wanted to be able to use a phone while abroad. I have traveled many times before, and my family and I had always carried a little international phone with us wherever we went for emergencies, hotel check-ins, dinner reservations, calling family, etc. Before coming to Harlaxton, I recently acquired a new iPhone 6 (my old phone was an iPhone 5, so I was already familiar with the interface and vast array of settings and apps available to me). 

Every phone carrier will have their own international abilities that you can investigate so it is always best to call and ask. My carrier (Sprint) offers a Global Roaming Plan which gives you free data and texting plus 20 cents per minute calling. The only catch is that it is 2G data; however, upon my arrival to the UK, I discovered that I could often find 3G very easily and it is also free. Essentially, if your phone can find it, you can use it. I was skeptical if this would work so I also called Sprint to get my phone unlocked before I came over. With this option, I can take out my current SIM card and buy a local SIM. Another popular option is to forget about finding international phone service and use your smartphone as a WiFi device only.

I love keeping in touch with people back at home while I am abroad and it is very easy to do if you have a WiFi signal. I use FaceTime Audio to make calls (Apple products only) and FaceTime Video and Skype to talk with people as well. While at Harlaxton, it is also important to be able to contact people who are here. Some people do not bring their phones for various reasons. One of the best ways that I have found to communicate with people is Facebook Messenger (works on the website and there is a phone app for quicker use when you are away from your computer). It is quick, easy and simple to use. You never know when you will need to make a group message to talk about a project, schedule a meeting or just have a fun conversation. Email is vital when conversing with professors. Also, never underestimate the power of a fun postcard or letter when communicating with family. It may seem old fashioned, but it is kind of fun!

Friends and Family Back Home

While at Harlaxton, your parents and friends at home will want to know what you are up to, so do everything you can to share your experiences with them! Additionally, contacting friends and family from home could maybe take away some homesickness. Remember that there is a huge time change in most cases. When preparing to go abroad, look at your schedule and prepare your family and friends for the amount of time that you will be able to talk during a given week.

Friends at the Manor

While in the manor, it is still very important to communicate with those who are in your classes. You may need to know when to meet them to work, eat, etc. Along with technology, there are also whiteboards outside of everyone’s rooms that can be used for quick messages or important information.

Written by: Kelsey Fields

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