Communication Topics / Internet and Staying Connected Abroad

Internet and Staying Connected Abroad

Not every country has the same level of internet service (think speed and accessibility) as you're used to here in the U.S., and free Wi-Fi isn't necessarily a "thing" everywhere else. This just means that you may not be able to get online whenever and wherever you want. Here are some ideas for researching and planning internet access while abroad.

Google It

Check out some student blogs and ask other UK students who have previously studied in your location.

Blocked Websites

In some countries, certain websites and apps are blocked or unavailable, like Skype, Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, SnapChat, and others. If that's your country, you may want to look into getting a VPN. A quick google search for your country and VPN will give you tons of info.


You may need to complete some online post-arrival college or university processes before you have access to their internet service. This is more common on longer programs, but consider searching for internet cafes, or local places with Wi-Fi so that you can complete those university items (and check in with home).

Have a Backup Plan

Sometimes the internet service in dorms or host family homes won't have the strongest signal or reliability. Be open to finding alternative spaces and options where you can FaceTime and complete coursework - public libraries, coffee shops, university cafes, or even fast food restaurants could be options. Some countries have poor internet services outside of major cities. If you'll be in a rural setting for a long amount of time, you should ask about cell phone reception as a backup for communication. Have patience, and use the slow/lack of internet as an excuse to get out and explore your new community (or at least hang at the local coffee shop while you're doing homework).

Staying Connected with Friends and Family

While you're abroad, you'll want to keep connected with your friends and family at home. That's great, and they'll want to hear from you! If you decide not to get a phone plan while you're abroad, consider using some low cost or free voice and video calling apps such as Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or even Skype. There are other apps too, and we don't specifically endorse these, they're just some we had on our phones when writing this information for you.

Keep in touch with home, but remember that it's important to set some expectations for how and when you'll communicate with your family and friends while you're abroad.

  • Checking In

    You'll be busy with classes and exploring your new city, so you might not be as available as normal. If you'll be out of touch for a little while, give them a heads up so they don't get too anxious if you aren't responding.

  • Time Differences

    You don't want them to try to call or message you in the middle of the night when you're trying to sleep. If they know the time difference, they may understand that you won't always be replying right away.

  • All Your Accounts

    Make sure you, your family, and your friends are all set up with the apps and accounts you all need before you leave. You may have to teach some people how to use the apps. It's definitely easier to do that in person rather than across an ocean, so take care of it before you board your plane.

  • iSomnia

    You might be tempted to stay up all night to catch up with friends, family, and social media...especially if there is a big time difference. You'll already be tired, and you don't want to be a zombie for class, so be sure to get enough sleep.

Research internet connections in your country/city before you go, and prepare yourself (and your family) for the possibility of poor internet access!