Keeping in Touch
Skype is software that allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet. Calls to other users of the service and to free-of-charge numbers are free, while calls to other landlines and mobile phones can be made for a small fee. Additional features include instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing. More information can be found at www.skype.com.
Email is one of the easiest ways to keep in touch. Although internet access is common in many areas of the world, your student may not have as much access as they are used to. While some students may have internet access on their site, others may need to go to an internet café to access the internet.
International Calling Cards
An international calling card is a card that you can use to make a phone call anywhere in the world. They are usually the size of a credit card and have a specific code number on them that you enter so that you can make a call from any type of phone.
What are the Different Types of Calling Cards?
There are basically two different types of international calling cards:
- Prepaid International Calling Cards – These are the most commonly used calling cards. You purchase the card and put a specific balance on it. The minutes are deducted when you make a call, and when you run out of minutes, you just buy another one.
- International Phone Call Credit Cards – These cards work like credit cards. Most have a PIN number that you enter when you make a call, and it charges minutes to your land line back at home. You then pay the bill later.
What Should I Know Before Purchasing a Calling Card?
There are a few things you should find out about the international calling card that you want to get before you actually purchase it. Consider the following:
- What is the per-minute fee for international phone call credit cards?
- Are there different rates and plans?
- Does the card work in the country that I am visiting?
- Can I get more cards in that country?
- Does the card charge a connection fee?
- Will I be charged if I don't make a connection but leave a message?
- Does the card have an expiration date?
- Can I get my money back for any unused minutes?
Where Can I Get an International Calling Card?
Those available in convenience and grocery stores often do not offer the best international rates, particularly if you are calling outside of Europe. You can purchase these types of cards online and at discounted rates. Check www.ldpost.com or www.masterbell.com for the best phone card for your calling destination. Also be aware that it may be much less expensive for your student to call you instead of you calling your student. Ask them to do some research when they arrive in country.
International Calling Plans
Major US long distance providers have discounted or special international calling rates. Contact your long distance provider for information on international rates or research other providers on the internet. Calls to mobile phones in some countries are charged different rates. Another option is a '10-10' service. 10-10-987 offers low rates to Europe, Canada, and some other regions, without affecting your long distance provider. More information is available at www.1010987.com.
Mailing Packages Overseas
Mailing a package to your student can be quite expensive. Any major postal carrier can ship packages internationally and give you advice and step-by-step instructions on how to do it. However, be very aware of the dimensions and weight of the package you're sending as the price for shipping the package can quickly exceed the price of its contents. Some countries will require your student to report to the post office in person and pay a fee in order to receive their package. Oftentimes items may be damaged, vandalized, lost, or delayed. Because of the many inconveniences, we do not recommend mailing packages.
Specific carriers work best for specific regions of the world. Do some research to see which carrier works best for your student's destination. There are several customs restrictions that parents should be aware of before attempting to mail items to their student. The restrictions vary depending on the service. For up to date mailing advice, please visit the following websites: