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Communicating while Away

Tips for Keeping in Touch

      • Research cell phone options 
      • Download free texting/calling apps 
      • Set up Eduroam prior to going abroad 
      • Make a communication plan with friends and family back at home 

You will be able to keep in contact with friends, family, and advisors using email, instant messaging, social media, video calls, and cell phones while studying away, depending on the conditions and availability of internet and technology in your host setting. Your specific program should cover these topics in pre-departure materials and during on-site orientation. 

You should choose the communication methods that best fit your budget and needs. Be aware that you may not have the same access to the internet and computers as you have on Duke’s campus. Most programs require or strongly recommend that you take your laptop with you, but check with your individual program to be sure. 

Please keep in mind that global communications have become so affordable and available that you may find yourself spending more time communicating with those back home than with host nationals and friends in your immediate vicinity. Try not to let communications with home take over your study away experience. Time is short and the opportunities that surround you are endless. Hopefully, your friends and family will understand that you need to learn and live where you are, without constant reminders and thoughts of home. For that reason, it is a good idea to make a plan with your family and friends about how often and when you will be communicating with them while you are abroad. 

Cell phones

Plan your cell phone use prior to departure in order to ensure that you will have cell phone coverage, and to avoid expensive roaming charges. If you’re studying internationally, it’s usually possible to sign up for a temporary international plan and use your U.S. cell service provider abroad.  

If studying internationally, we recommend that you also get a local cell phone number through an in-country carrier once they arrive in their host country, if you will be in-country for more than two weeks. Depending on the type of phone you have, it may be possible to use your current phone by purchasing a local SIM card. However, you will need to make sure that your phone is unlocked by contacting your U.S. carrier before you go. In any case, you should be sure that your family, program director, and applicable program staff have whichever cell phone number you plan to use while abroad. 

For more details on what to consider in obtaining cell phone coverage abroad, please review this Duke OIT webpage, which includes a link to country-specific information accessible with your Duke NetID and password. 

Texting & Calling Apps

Depending on your cell phone plan, it may be more cost effective to communicate via texting or calling apps such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or FaceTime.  


Eduroam is a service that allows students to access Wi-Fi networks at participating universities in more than 50 countries around the world. In such instances, students use their Duke NetID and password rather than having to register with the host university’s Wi-Fi network. Please note that you must set up this service prior to traveling abroad. Visit for setup instructions.