There will be many different ways to communicate and stay in touch with friends and family, but how you communicate will depend on you, the country you’ll be studying in, and what your personal interests are. Before you set off, make sure you discuss this with friends and family to find the best form of communication for you based on the costs of international communication and time differences. Set expectations with friends and family on how often you will touch base. Last but not least, while keeping in contact with them is important, don’t let it interfere with your experiences abroad! You’re in another country - Don't miss out on opportunities that only exist while you are there!
As you arrive in your designated country, please make sure you are able to access your UNC Charlotte email account. If there are restrictions (e.g. Google cannot be accessed in China), set up email forwarded from your UNC Charlotte email account to another account easily accessible in that country. E-mailing is the primary way of to contact students while abroad, so please be sure you are checking your email often.
Cell phones can usually be purchased depending on which country you will reside in. You may also want to look into whether or not your US cell phone can be activated for international use, but it is strongly suggested that you check with your cellphone provider before leaving to avoid any EXPENSIVE international fees associated with the international calling and data plans. Keeping your phone on Airplane Mode upon arrival will also help you avoid roaming charges!
There are also free calling/texting apps such as LINE, Viber, WeChat, WhatsApp (charges $0.99 after first year), KakaoTalk, Facebook Messenger, Tango, and other various applications for smartphones. You may also have the option of purchasing data cards (depending on host country) or Wi-Fi eggs (portable Wi-Fi on the go).
Buying calling cards will allow you to dial out of the country if you are unable to connect or make international calls. US 1-800 numbers are NOT toll free outside of the country.
Mail and Packaging
Mailing or receiving packages abroad can be very complicated. Postal services from country to country will vary. If you do plan on sending packages, please do so with caution. Some students may want to ship excess things home, but international shipping costs can also be fairly expensive. As for letters and postcards, they’re perfectly fine! Send away!
UNC Charlotte does not sponsor or endorse any of the applications or products listed.