Broadband Phones

May 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Study Abroad

Broadband Phones – stay in touch when you study abroad.

One of the main issues faced when students move to the UK it culture shock – the anxiety felt by students when having to study within a different cultural or social environment. To help you survive it is important to stay in touch with family and friends at home. Email is an obvious choice but can be very impersonal. Calling from the UK on a land line or mobile can be expensive. An option often overlooked by students is that of broadband phones – using the internet to make calls, cheaply and effectively. Broadband ensures that the quality is good and the voice of Internet protocol (VoIP) system keeps the cost down.

There are two types of phones that you can use

* software broadband phones that require the other person to have a similar system on their PC. You use a microphone and speakers connected to you PC or notebook.

*hardware broadband phones that act like you usual fixed line phone.

There are many suppliers in the UK offering broadband services, usually as part of an Internet package. Some examples of providers include O2, BT, Virgin, Talk Talk and so on. Prices and bandwidth do vary so be sure to shop around before choosing a package – you are typically required to sign up for a fixed time so make sure it fits with you study dates and may not be the cheapest. Prices range from about GBP6.00 per month for an 8MB connection to GBP20 per month for 24MB.

Leading suppliers of VoIP services include Skype, Vonage, Plusnet and so on. Each has different deals and you need to carry out your own research to make sure that you select the correct package to suit your needs. Perhaps one of the best sources of information is to ask your fellow students for their advice. Be sure to ask about quality since this can still be an issue – make sure they are getting good reception to your home country.

Keep in mind that mobile broadband is becoming more widely available and this may be an attractive alternative to fixed broadband if you intend to move around. Prices start at about GBP10 per month but prices will rise depending on speed. Currently speeds can reach 7.2MB so the system can be used for a broadband phone set-up.

Finally, look for special offers. Some providers are offering a “free” notebook PC when you sign up – it may not be a top spec computer but it will get you on-line cheaply and easily.

Student Flights

May 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Study Abroad

Once you have been accepted by a UK university and gone through the visa procedures, your next concern is to book a flight – how do you get a good deal?

Probably one of the first considerations is whether you should book a single or return flight. There is a myth that single flights are half the price of a return – this is not true. Indeed you may find that the cost of a single ticket is not that much different from the cost of a return. If budget is not a consideration then you will probably chose to fly direct on the national airline. However, if you are more ‘money conscious’ you may consider flying an indirect route via a cheaper carrier. If you choose this option make sure you have enough time to transfer to your next flight (even if you first flight is slightly delayed), but not too much time that you have to sleep in a crowded airport in the middle of nowhere.

If you are booking a return flight make sure that you leave a few extra days after you final exam- timetables often ‘slip’ and you may find that you are scheduled to take an exam the day after you fly home! Also, especially at year end, there are many parties and activities that you may not know about when you book so relax and give yourself a few extra days.

The Internet is a Great Helper

There are many sites on the Internet where you can search for and compare flight prices and details. But be careful not to confuse flight brokers with flight-comparison sites. A flight broker represents a limited number of airlines and so will not necessarily show you the best deal available. A genuine flight comparison site will allow you to broaden your search. Examples of flight comparison sites relevant to the UK would be:

www.kelkoo.co.uk

www.travelsupermarket.com

www.skyscanner.net

www.traveljungle.co.uk

www.cheapflights.co.uk

In addition to flight comparison site be sure to check companies such as STA Travel that specialise in  ‘cheap flights for students’- see www.statravel.com – for more details.

Do your homework and make sure you are getting the best deal. Always check that there are no hidden surcharges and that you inform your university of your flight arrival since most will arrange a pick-up service for you from the airport.