Stay Connected with Friends and Family Abroad

time zones

As we move into the summer months, more and more students will have friends or family abroad. Whether your best friend is leaving for a summer study abroad session, you are in Clemson while your family is back home abroad or you met amazing new friends on a recent trip, it is hard to stay in touch! Here are a few ways to make the distance seem a bit less overwhelming. 


  • WhatsApp is a free platform that allows you to instant message with anyone in the world over WiFi. It links to your personal cell phone number and works seemlessly across countries. Depending on your internet plan, it also can be free to use WhatsApp to make voice calls over a stable WiFi connection.
  • Facebook Messenger is a simple platform for instant messaging that you are probably already familiar with! This can be a useful tool for communication abroad as it is easy to share multimedia content.
  • FaceTime/Skype Video Chat are all great ways to make it feel like your family member or friend are right in the room with you!Over a stable internet connection either through WiFi or a data plan, connecting with loved ones abroad is simple and intimate.
  • FaceTime Audio works the same way FaceTime Video does; however, it is convenient for when a phone call is more practical then video. This is a perfect replacement for the pesky international charges a normal phone call would charge.
  • Snail Mail is not available between all countries, so look into this before you mail a letter or package! If possible, this can be an awesome way to send your loved one abroad a small piece of home or a simple handwritten letter!


Unlike keeping up with friends and family in the same country as you, spontaneity is often unsuccessful. It is important to schedule regular conversations with people abroad so that you both can plan around your own schedules and time zone differences. This will allow the conversation to feel natural and fulfilling, rather than rushed. 

It is crucial that both members of the conversation feel it is a perfect time to chat and catch up. Depending on the level of relationship, this planning may look different. With a family member abroad, perhaps scheduling a FaceTime Video call once a week is appropriate. With a friend, having a special time each day to instant message might be appropriate; a long audio conversation once a month may also work. 

The important thing is to talk openly with the person abroad to find out what works for both of you! 


The best way to combat the issue of time zone differences is not only to plan ahead, but to also try your best to think and plan on your family or friend’s time zone. A way to do this is to add your loved one’s time zone to your international/world clock app in your cell phone. This way, remembering what time it is abroad is only a touch away. 

Also, recognize that time zones can mess with things like appointment dates and times in calendar apps or simply in conversations. When making plans, always be clear when specifying what time zone you are referencing.