I think one of the saving graces of moving somewhere completely new is being able to stay in touch with some of the old! I can’t sing the praises of my smart phone enough – there’s so many ways of keeping in contact you don’t need to feel apart from friends and family. Apart from the “traditional” emailing and phone calls, there’s a whole range of alternative and certainly with regards to calls, cheaper alternatives too.
So, some hints, tips and suggestions:
Get an Italian SIM card – it makes keeping in contact a lot LOT cheaper. I think Vodafone were going to charge me £3 or £5 per day on top of my existing contract if I used the internet etc. Here it’s a about 10 Euros a month.
Whatsapp – it’s a free smartphone app and is great for messaging, sending photos, even sending songs. It’s free to send a message and very interactive because you can see whether the other person is typing or not. The downside is that people you want to speak to also need to have the app but certainly in my circle of friends, there are lots of people that have it so I think it’s definitely worth downloading. One of my favourite aspects of Whatsapp is the ability to set up groups so you can send a message to a group of friends at the same time. Apart from downloading the app, you don’t have to register on any websites, it just works off phone numbers so if you have someone in your phone, you’ll quickly be able to see if they’ve got Whatsapp or not once you’ve installed the app. Whatsapp is more of a phone app, I don’t know whether you can use it on your PC but perhaps you can…
Skype – Skype’s fab for video calls. Again, with all of the apps, you need to download the software. The downside of Skype is that you really need to know someone’s user name or email address and as far as I’ve seen, it doesn’t auto pick these up from your address lists so requires you to manually add. So with that in mind, it’s quite good for established friends/family because you know their details, less good perhaps for people you don’t know so well. Skype can take up a lot of bandwidth – the video component especially so if the video quality is bad, there’s an option just to have a voice call which generally works fine. Skype will charge you if you have a lot of video calls unfortunately – they want people to sign up for their “premium” account which is something like £3 – £4 a month. You can install Skype on your PC and phone.
Google Hangout – I’ve recently discovered this, mainly because Skype can be a bit temperamental in my flat. I suspect that Hangout takes up slightly less bandwidth. You have to have a Google account but beyond that, it’s pretty similar to Skype. Again, you seem to have to add people like Skype. But the best thing about Google Hangout, is that you can have a video call with multiple people for free 🙂 So far, so good. Again, it’s something for your PC and your phone.
Viber – This is a free call service, similar to Skype and Google Hangout but there’s no video option – I think that makes it easier on the bandwidth. As with Whatsapp, you know who’s on Viber because it works off the phone numbers in your phone. Alas, I’ve found it a bit annoying because all my numbers are saved in the UK format – not with a 0039 in front which seems to mean that Viber doesn’t pick it up rather frustratingly.
If you’ve got any comments on the above or any other ways of keeping in touch, then let me know and I’ll add/amend the list accordingly 🙂