BREAKING NEWS: Your current cell
phone may not work abroad.
CAUTION: If it does, it will cost you!
Lucky for you, there are plenty of options. We have the answers
to your most important questions:
How much does it cost to call
Calling America with your cell phone is not
cheap. Fortunately, you don't have to call using a cell
phone! There are plenty of cost effective, or even free,
options that can replace traditional calling methods.
What is Skype, can I Skype too?
Congratulations, you have found your #1 option for communication
while abroad. It is a FREE program that functions as an
instant messenger and a phone. You can download it here. Using a
microphone on your computer you can voice chat for free with other
Skype users, and if
you have a webcam you can even video chat! Skype also offers
calling plans which would allow you to dial any land line in
America from your computer for as little as
* Just be sure to download Skype for your
parents before you go!
What if I absolutely cannot, will
not, travel without a cell phone?
While cell phones should not be your first option for calling home
from Europe, it is incredibly important to have one in case of an
emergency. For St. John’s student going on a semester program,
the university provides free cell phones for participants through
wireless. You can order your phone online and
they will send you the phone (and all the different sim cards you
will need) for FREE! Just remember not to be fooled by the free
phone, you will be charged for the minutes you accumulate when
calling out of the country (although intra-country piccell to
piccell calls incur only a small fee, so calling your fellow study
abroad students is a cost effective option!). Incoming calls
are also free, meaning your family and friends can call you from an
American land line, which can be relatively affordable with a good
international calling plan. We recommend that you use the
phones for emergencies only when calling out of country.
*If you are not participating in a semester program, you will have
to decide whether or not buying a phone is worth the
cost. Cheap phones are available at any wireless store
throughout the city you are visiting. In many cases, the cost
of a phone and local sim card will be around 20 dollars. We
recommend purchasing one just to be on the safe side; having a
phone can be invaluable in the case of an emergency! Just be sure
to know the rates for your phone and limit your usage according to
Do people still use calling cards?
Although no longer the popular option, we recommend buying a
calling card before you go abroad just in case of an
emergency. They can be incredibly useful as they can be used
from any phone. Calling cards are available at a variety of
stores including Costco, and most convenience stores. Just be
sure to buy an international calling card and you are good