Using Skype When You Study Abroad: An Intro to Skyping

Posted on August 31, 2011

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Skype is a great tool for students abroad.Most students who live in this tech-permeated age might have heard of Skype, but not many know how to use this video chatting system — or how beneficial it can be for staying in touch with friends and family back home while they’re studying abroad.

This article outlines some Skype basics, and gives you tips for staying connected even when you’re an ocean away.

By Katherine Fillipo

Studying and traveling abroad can make it difficult to keep in touch with friends, family or a relationship [link] back home. Many students will wonder how they can stay connected without spending a fortune on long distance phone calls. Skype is the answer.

Skype is a software program that allows you to make online video and voice calls to other Skype users or to phones no matter where you are in the world. It is easy to download and takes just a few minutes to set up an account. You can do one-on-one video chats, Skype-to-Skype voice calls, instant messaging and screen sharing without spending a dime. You can also make calls to US landlines or mobile phones for around 2 cents a minute.

How to set up a Skype account:

  • Go to Skype’s homepage and click on the tab “Get Skype.”  Here you can choose whether you want the download for a PC, Mac or your smart phone.  Click “Download Skype” and the download will begin.
  • Once you finish the download, follow the simple instructions provided by the installer application and you’ll be set up with a new account within minutes.
  • You can log into your Skype account from any computer with internet access and Skype installed.
  • Once you have your account set up you can search for friends using their name, email, phone number or Skype name.  When you become friends with a person you can see their status, which lets you know when they are online. From there you can communicate with them through calls or instant messaging.

Here are some tips for new Skype users:

  • Get headphones. They provide more privacy plus if you’re making calls in your apartment, your flat mates will surely appreciate it! This can also prevent annoying “feedback” noises or background noise on a call.
  • Be patient. Skype is reliable but it depends on a solid internet connection.  If the connection is poor, you might not be able to make phone calls or video chat. If you find yourself using a slow internet connection, then don’t use the “video” function and stick to voice-only.
  • Make Skype dates. Scheduling regular “Skype dates” with friends and family at a certain time each week or month is an easy way to stay connected.
  • Be Prepared. Once you connect with someone on Skype, you will likely see them online often. Be prepared to be in close connection with anyone you decide to add to your contacts!

Skype is just one of a number of great High Tech Travel [category link] tools that can make your study abroad experience easier. Plus, your family and friends back home will appreciate hearing more from you about your experiences abroad.

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