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Communicating with Friends and Family

Prior to going abroad, discuss with friends and family how you will be able to communicate and the apps you'll be using. Your communication frequency may change based on your schedule and availability of wireless connectivity abroad.

Changing Your Mailing Address With Ohio State

Be sure to change your local address with Ohio State so that any mail sent by the university will go to a U.S. address where a parent or responsible friend will take care of your affairs. You can change your address at buckeyelink.osu.edu.


Internet access varies widely from region to region. It can be easy to access in some places or require extra time and effort to access in others. Be sure to check your Ohio State email on a regular basis at email.osu.edu. If you are using a personal email address while abroad, you should forward your Ohio State email to your personal account at my.osu.edu. The Office of International Affairs and Ohio State will communicate with you through your Ohio State email account and provide you with important information, such as your registration information. Many host institutions or overseas residence halls will provide computer facilities with internet access, or you can access the internet for a fee at a local internet café.

Telephoning from Overseas

When you make your first call overseas, you will need to learn a new telephone system, which will vary from country to country. Here are some options for phoning while overseas.

  • Use your current cell phone abroad.
    • Contact your U.S. wireless provider (e.g., Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) to find out if you need to purchase a specific service plan in order to use your phone and/or to obtain international calling and texting rates.
    • Another option is to use your personal cellphone with a service provider from overseas (such as Vodafone in Europe or América Móvil in Latin America). In this case, your cellphone will need to be “unlocked” before leaving the United States, and you will need to purchase a SIM card when you arrive in your host country. Using a SIM card abroad will give you access to local rates for minutes, texts and data usage, which may be less expensive than the rates offered through your U.S. wireless provider.
  • Use an international calling/SMS app.
    • Search for specific communication apps that will allow you to make international calls or texts at no charge, such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Rebtel, Vonage or MagicJack.
  • Rent or buy a cell phone.
    • You can rent or buy a cellphone in the host country or purchase a cellphone in the United States that provides international coverage.
  • Video calling services like FaceTime, Viber, Tango, Google Hangouts and Skype are all available to make free calls over the internet and serve as a good alternative.

Social Media

Think carefully about what you post online while you are abroad. Future employers, family members and university officials could come across your "social identity," which could have a negative impact on your future. Keep in mind that people in the United States are not the only ones watching these websites. Posting revealing information about yourself could make you a target both in the United States and in the country you are visiting.

  • You should always ask permission before posting videos or photographs of your classmates, instructors, resident directors and tour guides.
  • Remember, when you are online, you are in the public domain, and while you may be comfortable with this, not everyone feels the same way.
  • Always represent yourself, your classmates, your instructors, the United States and Ohio State in a respectable manner.
  • Share your education abroad stories with others, but be aware of what you are sharing and with whom. Check your privacy settings and turn off the sharing of your location and geotagging of photos. If you share your location (via blog, tagged photo, check in, post, etc.), you may receive unwanted attention, and you or your group may be targeted.

Communication with the Office of International Affairs

The Office of International Affairs looks forward to hearing from you while you are studying abroad. While you're away, feel free to drop us a line by sending a digital Postcard from Abroad.

The Office of International Affairs is also interested in showcasing your adventures through your photos and/or videos. While documenting your time abroad, please remember to take photos and/or videos:

  • With people in them, not just scenery or landmarks
  • In visually interesting and/or culturally identifiable locales
  • Featuring Ohio State branded attire
  • Without alcohol or nudity

If you choose to stay connected to friends and family via social media while you're abroad, stay connected to the Office of International Affairs as well — we can retweet your tweets, share your Facebook statuses, reblog you on Tumblr, regram you on Instagram and even host a blog on your behalf while you're away. Upon your return, please make sure to fill out an education abroad questionnaire, and feel free to email us any photos or videos from your program. 

For more information, to submit photos or videos or to make social media arrangements, please contact Victor van Buchem, senior communications specialist, at van-buchem.1@osu.edu or 614-247-4828.