There is no denying that the longer you are away, the more difficult it is to stay connected with the people and places you left behind. While it is very common to miss your family and friends, it is equally as common to feel guilty for not having the time to write to everyone.

When it comes to communication, our biggest bit of advice is to keep it simple! While it may come naturally to you to Snapchat everything, is that really the case for your parents and grandparents? We encourage you to share this list with your family so they can get the right tools to make keeping in touch even easier.

Embrace the apps

WhatsApp

Cost: Free

Available on iOS and Android. 

WhatsApp connects users in an easy to use messaging and calling application. You can create specific friend groups (allowing you to communicate with everyone in the group), or just chat one on one. You can also voice and video call.

Facebook Messenger

Cost: Free

Available on iOS and Android, and on your computer. 

If you and your friends and family have Facebook accounts, this is a really good app to use. Facebook Messenger works similarly to WhatsApp, but you don’t need the other person’s mobile number – only their Facebook account. Using the Facebook Messenger app, you can text and even do voice or video calls. Note that this is a different app to your regular Facebook app and requires a separate download.

Skype

Cost: Free

Available on iOS and Android, and on your computer. 

Known predominantly for its video calling capabilities, Skype is often the app of choice for laptops and desktops. You can also make free voice calls to other people who have Skype or pay a very small fee to directly call landlines anywhere in the world.

Google Hangouts

Cost: Free

Available on iOS and Android, and on your computer. 

For the Google fans out there, this is a great way to group message or call all of your friends. With very cheap rates for calling landlines, you might like to think of this as a harmonious mix between WhatsApp and Skype.

Instagram

Cost: Free

Available on iOS and Android.

While this isn’t strictly a communications app, you can use this as a means of showing off your new life in Australia or your latest travel experiences. It also allows your friends and family to see what you are up to, assuring them that you’re safe without having to speak to them every day.

Make a good old phone call

Sitting on the bus or train on your regular commute to university? Why not use that time to call a loved one? Making a phone call is a little more subtle than Skyping or Facetiming (making it perfect for passing the time on public transport!), plus you can call your family on their landline phone if they don’t have access to apps.

Put your writing skills to use

Write a blog

By launching your own blog, you can upload your thoughts, experiences and stories to allow those back home to see what you have been doing. This is also a great way of ensuring you don’t forget any stories yourself and will bring great joy when you read your own entries many years after they have passed. Three of the most popular blogger sites are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.

Handwritten letters

There is something quite special about receiving a handwritten letter in the mail. While it may take longer to reach your friends and family, a letter is a great way of letting the people you care about know that they matter.

If writing a long letter seems too difficult, postcards are equally as special; here, you only have a small amount of space to write your message. Choosing postcards with great pictures also allows people to visualise where you were when writing to them.

Scan the news

Staying up to date with political and social news from your home country is a fantastic way to stay connected. It also gives you great topics of conversation when speaking to your friends and family. Try looking at the social feeds of your local news channels or at their websites.

Useful tips

Hunt around for a good phone plan

If you’re regularly communicating with friends and family back home, you’ll want to make sure your phone plan includes plenty of data and good rates on international calls. Do some research and scout around for the right plan. Make sure to pay close attention to the cost of phoning home – some providers offer special deals on calling particular countries.

Schedule regular time

We get it – when you move to a new country, you can get totally swept up in your new life. Suddenly, you’re attending university, going out with your new friends, exploring the city, and perhaps finding hard to fit in anything else. However, it’s important to make sure you set up a consistent time to catch up with friends and family back home. This could be a standing date for the 15th of every month, for example, or a regular night each week. Whatever schedule you decide on, treat it as you would a proper appointment, and try not to make plans that cancel it!

Be aware of your time zone

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s extremely important. Don’t try calling your family in the middle of their night, as you’ll not only wake them up but may make them worried if they think it is an emergency. Use a timezone calculator or see if your mobile phone has a world clock.