Skype, or video chatting by any means, has been the best thing to hit the study abroad world since they invented international calling cards. It is a free and easy way for students to keep in contact with their friends and family back home. But maybe tools like Skype and Facebook make it too easy to keep in touch.
Before I left for my study abroad in France, my adviser told me one piece of advice that I will now pass on to you: “If you spend 50% of your time in the local culture, and 50% of your time trying to keep your life going back home, you will not have a full experience in either place.”
This advice is easier said than done, however, since it is more comfortable to lean on the familiar as you enter an unknown territory. This is not to say that staying in touch back home should be completely taboo, but here are a few easy guidelines to follow:
* Find a balance! Schedule a time a few days each month when you call home or catch up on the gossip with your friends. However, if you find yourself more involved in the social scene at your home school, then you should probably immerse yourself more in your abroad school.
* You might find it hard to cut yourself off right away, but perhaps learn to taper and talk with your friends less and less every week.
* Try letter writing instead of sending emails! This is not only a more personalized way to communicate with your friends and family, but it will give you an automatic time buffer while the letters are in transit.
There is nothing better than getting a piece of mail that has traveled across the world and your friends will be thrilled when they see your foreign stamps.
Going abroad is without a doubt a scary experience, but getting there is the hardest part! Immersing yourself in the culture is the only way to leave without regretting that you had spent too much time on your computer. After all, you’re only going to be there for a few weeks or months. How much could have changed back home anyways?