Teaching abroad can be such a rewarding experience. You have probably heard this plenty if you at all know anyone who has done it or have been in teaching circles. And it is the truth. But that doesn’t mean it is for everyone, especially the people who just cannot be away from family, friends or other loved ones. In fact that is probably one of the worst things to handle when you decide to teach in other countries (unless they come with you). So to assist those that are being separated from the ones they love to do something else they love, here are a few tips and strategies that can be effective to stay in touch.
Not every city or country has them, but when they do they can be such a life saver. Internet Cafes, for those who have never used them, are places that provide computers connected to the internet that you can pay to use hourly. Many major cities tend to have them, especially ones in China, France, England and the US. The smaller the city generally the less likely they are to have them. With the internet cafes though, you have full access to reaching families or connecting through things like your social media to keep in touch. Also they can be quite effective for things like Skype, an online voice chat program.
These days, smart phones will generally provide their services across the world so long as you are willing to pay for it. Normally if you were only going somewhere for a week or two outside of your normal country the costs wouldn’t be warranted to pay extra, but for those teaching abroad we tend to spend much longer there. If you have a plan with your smart phone you can actually set up a monthly cost that isn’t too expensive to be able to use your phone in a number of countries. Verizon provides nearly three hundred countries on their coverage for only around five extra bucks a month (not counting data).
If you do go with a data plan for international travel (at least while overseas) you can also look into keeping up with your social media and other sources just the same as having been on the internet. Just be careful because if you do not get an international plan for your phone, sometimes even just having it on in a different country can rack up charges because of an app you aren’t aware of being on.
Throw Away Phones
If you can’t manage your own phone, or are not on a plan with your phone anyway, you can instead pick up a ‘throw-away’ phone. These are prepaid phones that are pretty basic and use cards you buy ahead of time to determine how many minutes you gain to be able to use for calling or texting people. You can pick up one of these phones for less than twenty bucks for the same cost on a card for some basic minutes. You won’t be able to talk all the time with it without paying large amounts of cash, but it will give you something. Just remember to get it in the country you are teaching in and not your home country; otherwise it might not work just the same as your normal phone.
If you happen to have a laptop you are taking with you overseas there are broadband devices you can plug into your laptop to obtain an internet connection where ever you are. It won’t be the greatest but once again it provides you with a means of making sure you are keeping in touch with those you aren’t in physical contact with. You can pick up the device for the country you are going to before, or have an international plan added onto a broadband device you already possess.
Not nearly enough people are using letters as a means of communication. I’ve often recommended having a pen pal that you only communicate with through letter to keep the written language going steady on paper. But you can do the same with your loved ones; send them postcards from where you are, or simply letters of detailed events you are going through and maybe even include some pictures. It can almost be more effective than any digital interaction because it gives the loved ones and you something to hold on to when you can’t communicate with them. So keep the snail mail alive!
Remember, that no matter what methods you use, it is important you realize you are the one that has to keep up with communication with anyone. It doesn’t help to shut everyone else out and being in a different country you have more control over who you are talking to and whether you are bothering to. Take it from the soldiers; you can never spend enough time with your loved ones when you are far away from them.
Photo by: University of Exeter