As an international student it can sometimes be hard to be away from home. I personally only go home once a year for Christmas, and even in the summer usually have to live away from home in order to be able to work and train for hockey. I don't get to see my family very much, and in my first year at the University of Minnesota, that was a bit difficult to get used to. A week ago, my sister came to visit for the first time in two years, and I realized how funny it was, that since I moved away, we have become so much closer......
For years my sister and I lived in the same tiny house, with rooms that were right beside each other, and quite honestly, I probably spoke to her less than I do now. We were not close in the least bit, and it is funny to think that our relationship would improve so much at the same time that I would move to another country. This is the realization I had when she visited last week, and it made me think about the homesickness I felt my first year compared to what I think about being away now.
Now it seems for me, that sometimes it doesn't matter if you move to another country, or only move away to another city just a couple hours away, you still may get to see your friends and family significantly less. It seems as though this can just be a product of growing up. When it comes to family, however, what I have found is that it has been really easy to stay in touch, and has truly just made the time we do spend together far more valuable. It does not take long to get used to having interaction be done more on the phone and over the computer than in person. You just have to realize the value of it.
Your phone bill does not need to be atrocious either. Here are some different ways of making international calls for a more minimal expense.....
1. Buy international phone cards from local convenience stores and gas stations. Cards like "The One" are five dollars and give you up to ten hours of international call time. I use cards like this combined with a cheap phone plan, and just call my friends and families during the times of the night and week where I get free minutes on my plan.
2. Text family members to have them call you.... This works for me, because my family has an international phone plan. Depending on your land line provider this can be a good solution if it is only a small additional monthly cost to your parents phone bill. This can often be cheaper than purchasing an international Cell phone plan here in the U.S.
As well, instant messaging systems such as MSN Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger are great ways to stay in touch with friends.
Here are the web site addresses for a couple of the most common phone companies in the United States: