Calling Home

So DS is pretty dead set on one of the Ireland schools for study abroad. He had one off-hand question that I had no idea about. How does one call home to the US?
Alexa? US cellphone? UK cellphone? VOIP?
Looking for cheap but reliable.

WhatsApp is one good option.

When my kids were abroad, or we were on a cruise, we used WhatsApp for both messaging and phone calls. Its very common. Uses wifi I think. (Its a free app you would both download and use). This way you aren’t using your (expensive) international data.

But a different question is what he will use for a cellphone while over there…you can check with your current cell phone carrier for international plans. I do think that, depending on the country and the carrier, some kids DO get a cheap cell phone abroad that turns out to be cheaper.

He was originally thinking about going for a year, but w/ some changes coming to his school’s English Dept, he’s thinking about only going for a semester. I don’t know if getting a phone for just a semester would be worth it.
All good questions to ask when he goes to see his Study Abroad Advisor

When older S went to St Andrews, he swapped his Sim card for a local one. I want to say it was through Veraphone. It was ~ $20 euros/month for unlimited European talk/text and maybe 4GB of data.

That doesn’t help calling home, but we aren’t a phoning family. H and I are not app savy, but we did face time and Skyped a few times. We texted (iMessage) daily. It wasn’t much different than him being away at school. And it came in handy to have a local phone when we visited and traveled around the country.

When he came back home, he just swapped the cards back. And I also never took him off our plan during that time.

Pay as you go options are cheap and easy in Ireland - just make sure that your phone is unlocked before you go. As @ClassicMom98 said, swapping SIM cards is easy.

WhatsApp is the platform in Ireland, so he will use that anyway. In our family (which is widely spread) we mostly use WhatsApp / Facebook / FaceTime / Skype for messaging / phone / video chat. WiFi is everywhere & data is cheaper than in the US.

Really really not hard to stay in touch!

WhatsApp! We made the mistake of getting my daughter a phone when she studied abroad in Italy. I can’t remember any of the details, but she ran up a huge, huge bill (talking to her local friends, of course, not us!). Just unbelievable. And I thought I had researched it, yikes.

After that, when my son was in Lebanon, he got WhatsApp. He’s a kid who likes to stay in touch, so we texted or talked almost every day. The reception was better than when we use our Verizon cellphone in our house! We also keep in touch with our friends in South Africa this way. It seems like most of the world uses WhatsApp.

You can also put it on your computer so that you can type texts quicker than on a phone. Good for us old people.

Good point on having WhatsApp on your laptop, @MaineLonghorn!

This was SO helpful, thank you!! I asked S if he knew about WhatsApp and he was a bit bemused w/ the old, out of touch mom. Little S piped up from the other room, “yeah that’s what I use to talk to (friend’s name) when he goes to Australia!”

So, does he just get a new SIM when he gets there, or is it something he can order before he goes?

When my D went to Japan last January, we used Facebook messenger for messaging and video calls. She also sent all all of her photos that way, which I put into a file for her on our home computer. Once I was in Japan, we used what’s app, but hardly ever.

For her use while there, she bought a portable modem and communicated with friends via Facebook messenger and Snapchat or Instagram, I think.

Older S got it when he got to Scotland. Honestly, I left the whole thing up to him to figure out, but it didn’t seem to be that hard for him.

When we went to Europe last summer for 2+ weeks he got another one. $20 for a 2+ week trip was cheaper than the $10/day international plan. The rest of us just used WiFi when available, but it was very helpful not to have to rely on it when out and about exploring on our own. We just stopped by a store, filled out paperwork and the employee actually put the card in for him. Of course, he had to keep up with and swap back on the way home.

But it is a bit strange. Different plans cover different countries. His summer one covered dozens but not Monaco. So we couldn’t use it there. And he will have a European number btw.

You pick up the SIM card when you get to Ireland- they are everywhere. “3” and Vodaphone are 2 of the big names.

The Sim card itself is free. Here is the current Prepay(no contract) offer from 3:

You walk in, hand them €20 & walk out with a Sim card & local phone number :slight_smile:

@Classicmom, Monaco isn’t part of the EU. One of the painful parts for the UK is that they will give up the glorious cellphone policy in the EU when they leave in Dec no roaming / extra charges whether you use your phone at home or in France / Germany/ other EU member :slight_smile: