FROM STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE 07-08: IN ASSOCIATION WITH UCAS

Staying in touch: How to navigate the communications minefield

With today's technology it's easy and cheap to contact your family and friends

Whether you need to keep in touch with friends back at home or your parents want to know your latest movements as you begin your new independent student life, this article should help you navigate the communications minefield.

You may be starting a new and exciting life at university but there will probably come a time when the "how do I work the washing machine?" question will be required. Knowing the most cost-effective and savvy way of keeping in touch will make life infinitely easier for you.

Mobile phones

Obviously incredibly useful little gadgets these, but be careful of costs and call charges as you may find your bill rockets when there are so many new people - plus your family - to keep in touch with. Some phone companies have special plans to cater specifically to student usage, so don't be afraid ask. Pay-as-you-go is also a good option if you want to know exactly how much you are spending. Stick to texts for meeting at the library!

E-mail

Although not always instant, e-mails are a great way of keeping in touch without the cost of calling. If you don't already have an address there are plenty of free servers online and they are incredibly easy to set up. It's also a good way of keeping the parents off your back when they're asking for news! Some internet-based e-mail accounts allow you to chat instantly via your computer. Chatting can provide a suitable study break while working on essays or doing research, just make sure it does become too much of a distraction!

Skype

For international students studying in the UK, Skype can be a great way of keeping call costs down when phoning home. Calling via your internet connection to other Skype users is free to both you and the person you're calling, and you can also call other landlines or mobiles for a minuscule fee. Bear in mind that there are other internet telecommunications networks available if your university or college doesn't cater for Skype.

Myspace or Facebook

A great way of keeping in touch with new mates or those from home. Keep them up to date with your social and study life by adding photos or stories. Update your profile regularly to tell the world how your new life is going. Be mindful, of course, that almost anyone can access the information including other students, parents or even university staff. For the really technologically savvy, perhaps try sending Mum and Dad a podcast account of your first week.

Landline phone

This can be a great, cost-effective way of communicating, although problems may arise when the bill has to be split at the end of the month. Also, the location of the phone in student accommodation could become a problem if it's not a cordless one. If your house or residence doesn't have a landline you may find using a pay phone with a phone card is an option to give you privacy.

Letters

Finally, the Royal Mail postal system can be surprisingly useful in this the age of digital communication; packages of goodies from friends and family are always a welcome arrival. If all else fails, writing a letter home to concerned parents or relatives will reassure them that you have survived freshers' week and have not forgotten about them. Perhaps you could even get creative and send them the student union newspaper, or a postcard of the campus. Everyone loves receiving something though the mailbox that isn't a bill, after all!

SSG suggests...

Make sure you have everyone's addresses, contact details and birthdays before you leave - it will be infinitely harder to track them down if you've moved away from home!

Don't wait for your new or old friends to contact you first. Send them an e-mail if you are feeling lonely, because chances are they are waiting just like you.

If you are the organised type, arranging an annual meet up around Christmas or the summer holidays will mean you all have a date to look forward to.

Some mobile phone companies have special deals for prepaid customers that include free calls to other mobiles or landlines, or free texts on the weekend. Make sure you know how to make the most of them.

If all else fails, you could always find out if the Royal Mail offers a next-day carrier pigeon service...

WEB AID

MySpace, Facebook, Bebo

Keep in touch with your mate's antics with these social-networking sites

myspace.com, facebook.com, bebo.com

Skype

A very cheap and often free way of calling via your internet connection

www.skype.com

Royal Mail

Useful for finding postcodes, pricing your care packages and buying stamps

www.royalmail.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + + uncapped commission + benefits: SThree: Did you ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits + uncapped commission: SThree: Did you kn...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence