When you move abroad, whether for a change of scenery, for work, or to move near loved ones, it can be challenging to know how to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Even in our modern era, where the Internet and social media make the world seem a lot smaller, simple things like making phone calls can be more confusing than anticipated when they are being done internationally. International calls can be expensive when done using your regular cell phone provider, with calls being charged anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 a minute. Thankfully, there are options to stay in touch by phone with your family and friends back in your home country.
One of the best ways to stay in touch with family and friends is by voice phone calls. To avoid the accumulation of fees, a common answer is to get a virtual phone number, sometimes called an access phone number. This is a service that allows you to have a phone number that isn't connected to a specific phone line, instead, through the Internet. You can route your calls to a landline, a cell phone, or your work phone, so that it's always convenient for your family and friends to reach you. This also helps to avoid the high costs of international calls.
A great option for a virtual phone number service so that you can make voice calls back home is EasyRinger. EasyRinger was founded and designed by former Microsoft engineers living as expatriates in China. They built their service to meet a need that they saw lacking, and now have opened it up to the public and expanded to serve several different countries. While many countries like China block app-based services like WhatsApp, EasyRinger is available without needing any workarounds or confusing installation. You can choose your phone number, and you won't have to download any software to make it work. Just use your existing cell phone or landline, and your friends from back home will be able to reach you easily.
No matter how you choose to contact your family and friends, intentionality becomes much more important when living abroad. You can no longer simply call up your friends whenever you think of them, as often, the time difference will make this difficult. Plan ahead of time and schedule a phone call with your loved one, so that you've both set aside time to talk, and to make sure you'll both be awake!
Living abroad is often an opportunity to pursue something better or more exciting for yourself, but it can also be incredibly lonely when you have to leave your family and friends behind. Rather than relying on the disconnected nature of social media, plan to find a way to make phone calls to your loved ones, so that you can hear their voice and they can hear yours. Something as simple as singing "Happy Birthday" to your grandmother or catching up on life with your friends can make the transition to another country much more manageable.
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