Today's world is more connected than ever due to technology and social media. There are some important considerations to keep in mind though when studying abroad.
The main difference between an adapter and a converter is electricity. The purpose of an adapter is to simply allow you to plug in your electronic devices into foreign outlets as they are shaped different. However, a converter changes the voltage found in an outlet to match that of your devices. Electrical currents abroad often run differently and have different outlets than the American system you are used to. Without the use of a converter, your appliance will burn out in a matter of seconds and you may cause a fire.
Most laptops and tablets have a converter built into the charge cord, so the use of a converter is not necessary. Additionally, many electronics may be charged through a USB port. If this is the case, consider charging your important devices through your laptop.
Many other items such as hairdryers, straighteners, electric razors, etc. will not work abroad due to different electrical currents. It is recommended to buy small electrical appliances in your host country.
See this list of voltage specifications by country to determine if you need a voltage converter or adapter for the electronics and appliances you plan to take abroad.
From staying in touch with friends and family back home to apps of all sorts, phones play a large role in 21st-century travel.
In order to make international calls, you will need to use country-specific calling codes. To locate country calling codes and learn more about making calls from one country to another, refer to the International Calling Guide.
Check with your host institution on program requirements regarding cell phones. Some programs require that students have a working cell phone for the duration of their program.
There are multiple options for obtaining and using a cellphone abroad. Those listed below are simply options that are most frequently pursued by study abroad students. We recommend you choose whichever option fits within your personal budget and will be most conducive to your needs.
Option 1: Add an International Plan to Your Current Phone
Option 2: Purchase an International Plan in Your Host Country
Option 3: Purchase a Phone in Your Host Country
Stay connected, but not too connected during your time abroad. In this era of modern communication, staying in contact is easy when using email, smartphones, and social media. Though relying on the internet to utilize these tools in our daily life is normal, unfortunately, internet is not always as reliable in other parts of the world. It is also important to step out of your comfort zone while abroad and immerse yourselve in the experience. Too much communication with friends and loved ones back home may make it more difficult to adjust and cope with life abroad.
We recommend contacting your support system upon arrival to your host country and periodically throughout your program to let them know you are safe. You can also share both the OIE and host institution contact information in case of emergencies. Please also review our guidance for handling emergencies while abroad.
Establishing a clear communication plan and setting boundaries with your support system is encouraged. For example, some students organize a schedule to video chat every Sunday evening and give a weekly recap rather than daily updates. A clear communication plan will allow you to make the most out of your time abroad without leaving your support system to wonder if you are safe or just busy with classes and exploring. Many support systems find comfort in knowing that they have a set time at which they can expect to hear from you.