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By Shane Pausits, University of Michigan

Traveling abroad in Spain and other parts of Europe has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career. Still, it can be very difficult to be away from your home and home university for such a long period of time. Especially in a culture like today where social media is constantly reminding us on what we’re missing out on, who’s not around, and how life is always changing. To treat this undeniable homesickness, here are 3 tips on how to continue to see, hear, and speak to your loved ones back in the States.

  • Create a Mass List to Keep in Touch With Friends and Family
    • Taking a page out of mass subscription platforms, consider compiling a list of your friends and family that you would want to send a larger, mass email to once or twice a week/month. Sending a mass message is an easy way to help everyone feel like they are in the loop and reduce the “I miss you” guilt-trip messages. How do you do it? Easy, just create a contact list in your mail app address book and log this list in as “subscribers.” If you’d like, you can use free sights like MailChimp.
  • Download Crucial Apps to Stay Connected
    • Google Hangouts: Great for texting from Android-to-Android and iPhone-to-Android. Since Android phones don’t have iMessage, you can only text them over a network — and I did NOT want to get an international phone plan. By downloading Google Hangouts, you sign in with your Gmail address and can message anyone who is using Hangouts. You can also make calls to other Hangouts users for free, outgoing calls to the US and Canada for free from most countries, and call other countries for extremely low rates.
    • WhatsApp: WhatsApp works just like Google Hangouts and connects with other WhatsApp users. One thing to note: after traveling to over 30 countries, most locals I met outside of the United States and Canada prefer to use WhatsApp over Google Hangouts and Skype. Often times, WhatsApp is more common in European countries and may not affect the data usage of your international phone plans.
    • FaceTime/iMessage: The best ways to stay connected via video calling and quick messages with those members of your circle who also operate in the Apple spectrum. Plus, you can play GamePigeon mini-games with everyone at home.
  • Find a Communication Schedule
    • It is easy to become busy and have three days turn into three weeks -– next thing you know three months have passed and everyone is upset. To avoid this pitfall, utilize your google calendar app to set reminders, get on a schedule, and find times when it is easy to connected with your loved ones.