Keeping in touch with friends and family while you study abroad
It’s easy to stay in touch with the people you love when you’re studying in New Zealand.
Being away from family and friends can be hard when you are studying abroad – especially during the first few weeks. But New Zealand has excellent internet and mobile phone services, so you can be in touch with them wherever you are and whatever time of day it is.
You will probably be able to use your existing mobile phone in New Zealand, although some phones are region-locked and will not work here. Check with your provider before you leave.
Once you get here, sign up with a New Zealand mobile provider and get a new SIM card for your phone. We have eight mobile providers in New Zealand. You can compare their plans online before you leave. Most students choose a prepaid plan rather than a contract because plans are cheaper and you’ll know exactly how much it will cost each month, which makes it easier to budget.
Free Wi-Fi is available in most city centres. Free Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in public libraries and i-SITE visitor information centres, and in many cafes and restaurants.
Facebook posts are a great way of letting lots of people know what you are up to – your friends will be jealous when they see those photos of you bungy jumping in Queenstown.
Messaging apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp mean you can have a private conversation with just a few people. Group chat is a good way of staying in touch with everyone in your family at the same time.
Video chat services like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Wechat, WhatsApp and Skype are great for keeping in touch. Give family and friends a tour of your bedroom, or introduce them to your new friends. Just be aware of the time difference between New Zealand and your home country.
Even if you don’t use email very much, your parents probably do. Think of your emails as being like a diary – you can re-read them when you get home and relive the happy memories.
You might want to consider setting up a blog to keep your friends, family and family back home up to date with your experiences in New Zealand.
Letters and postcards
Everyone likes getting a letter – or a postcard if a letter seems like too much hard work. Letters are good for staying in touch with older members of your family, like your grandparents, who may not use email or social media. You can buy stamps from most dairies (convenience stores) – or look out for a PostShop.
Prepaid phone cards
A pre-paid phone card is usually cheaper than using your mobile phone if you need to make an international call. It’s even cheaper if you use the card in conjunction with a landline – a $20 card will give you hundreds of minutes of calling.
Pre-paid phone cards are available from most dairies and supermarkets. It pays to check which card offers the best rate for calling your home country.
About the contributors
Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student.