Preparing to Study Abroad:

Keeping in Touch While Studying Abroad: Download Skype

I’ll get into buying a cell phone when you touch down in your host country a little later, but for now, there’s something you can do before you leave that will make keeping in touch while studying abroad with your parents and friends back home a lot easier - Skype.

 Download Skype

I know that most people have probably heard of Skype, but I just want to stress how great Skype is when studying abroad. It’s easy to set up and free to use. All you need is a web cam and you’re good to go. You can use Skype to make video calls for free, and you can make calls to landlines for a fraction of a penny. In short, it cuts down on the cost of international calls to your friends and family back home, which would otherwise cost a small fortune, and it’s also useful to call your friends at your host school. (If you do get a cell phone overseas – which I highly recommend you do – you’re probably going to have to sign up for a pay as you go plan which can still cost you up to 15 to 20 cents a minute.)

Here’s how you get started on Skype:

  • Visit You'll land on a page that has buttons galore that read “Download Now”. Click any one of them. The setup and installation will probably start on its own. Don’t worry if it doesn’t. Skype has instructions at the bottom of the page for self-installation.
  • It only takes about a minute and a half, and the only thing you should have to do is pick a username and provide your email address. When the installation is complete, it should put a shortcut on your desktop so all that’s left to do now is launch it.
  • Now that you have Skype installed, you’ll need a web camera so people can actually see your face when you call them. There are several good quality, low cost webcams on the market, but check the specs on your laptop, notebook or netbook. Most come with a built-in webcam.

You may also want to look into getting a calling card. It’s really useful if you don’t have your laptop with you (like when you’re traveling). Your ISIC can be used as a calling card, but if you don’t go that route, be sure you can make international calls with the card you buy. Don’t forget, you can buy credits and call landlines directly from Skype.