A tricky part about study abroad is that one has a life and community in one country, you go to create a new life and community in another country, but one still wants to maintain the original relationships to which you will eventually be returning…Yes, it is as confusing as it sounds. So how do you communicate with people back home while you are abroad? How do you update people back home while still being engaged in your present circumstances? Wanting to stay in touch with my family, boyfriend, and friends, balancing communication was pretty important for me to figure out. So here are some tips of what I and some of my friends have learned along the way!
Skype—This is now one of my best friends. Skype and Google Chat are my best ways to connect with people back home from chatting with the family to having job interviews. I have also found it helpful to schedule consistent times each week to talk to family or friends. This lets you fully focus on each time (Skyping or studying abroad) without interfering with the other or people asking when the next Skype conversation is. Do you ever run out of things to talk about? Not really—but you can be proactive in communication too! For example, my boyfriend and I are reading the same book and talk about it on Skype dates or come up with a funny, random question just for kicks and giggles. Usually crazy stories about study abroad are never is short supply.
Postcards—Really writing of any kind is great. For example letters can be a great way to make regular communication more interesting. But postcards are the easiest; they are cheap, have great pictures, and are a souvenir for the other person. Plus since you can only write so much, you generally have to be rather consistent in sending them to keep people back home updated.
Blog—The classic line of every study abroad student, “I’m going to start a blog about my adventures so my friends and family can follow them.” It’s a great notion but not ideal for all. If you are confident in being able to keep up with a blog consistently (pictures included), then it is great fun for those reading. However as semesters get busy with school and traveling, blogs can be hard to keep updated. Is there a better solution? Try to be more efficient and minimize your means of communication. Instead of having a blog, create your own Facebook page or Instagram Account specific to your study abroad trip. It is easy to add/accept people who want to stay updated, the format is much easier than a blog, and study abroad students are guaranteed to be on Facebook anyway trying to hear news from home.
Phone—That is way too expensive, so do not count on it. Many people have used Facetime which works wonders. Other than that, phone communication is pretty minimal.
There are my communication suggestions and ideas. My friends and I have used a combination of all types of correspondence which seems to work well. How often do you communicate with people back home? That depends on the student—it honestly changes per person. For me, Skype calls happen about once a week, about every 2 weeks per blog post, and a postcard about every 2 months. It is important to give proper attention to living an exciting experience where you are studying, but do not forget those great folks back home who are just as excited for you. With love from France!