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Maintaining Relationships Abroad

Communication

By Bobby Kuechenmeister, UWEC Junior

Couples separated by study abroad experiences rely on communication methods because like all relationships, communication is key. The most often used methods are calling, e-mail, and Instant Messaging. The reasons for these being most often used involve two important factors for any college student: time and money. Although it is not time consuming and inexpensive to send e-mail or do Instant Messaging, one key to success in any relationship is variety and spontaneity, especially when separated by an ocean. Also, not all of these methods may be available to both partners, depending on where each person finds themselves.

Communication Methods (Pros)

Writing Letters

Calling

E-mail

Instant Messaging

Care Packages

-Inexpensive
-Relaxing
-Personal
-Fast
-Relaxing
-Personal
-Inexpensive
-Fast
-Accessible
-Inexpensive
-Relaxing
-Personal
-Accessible
-Inexpensive
-Personal
-Creative


Communication Methods (Cons)

Writing Letters

Calling

E-mail

Instant Messaging

Care Packages

-Difficulty mailing
-Requires patience
-Frequency
-Expensive
-Searches for calling cards
-Brief conversations
-Time zone differences
-Time zone differences
-Internet difficulties
-Time zone differences
-Internet difficulties
-Difficulty mailing
-Frequency


Writing Letters

Due to the growing population using the Internet for communication needs, the idea of writing letters is easily lost, but not forgotten. Letter writing and sending mail is considered inexpensive whether by first class or priority mail standards, but it only depends on how quickly one partner wishes to send the letters. Also, since each letter sent is handwritten, there is something more personal about it possibly because it shows how much one partner cares through the time and effort it takes to write letters. However, frequency of writing and how a person sends the letters (in groups) may result in only having the local post office as a place to mail it.

Calling

Another popular method of communicating for couples is the telephone. Making a telephone call is still fast, no matter what the distance involved is, but again there is also a personal element in it because partners hear each other's voices. Not surprisingly, there are numerous ways of attempting to maximize the telephone for long-distance calling ranging from the popular 10-10 lines to calling cards. Usually these methods greatly restrict the amount of time partners talk with each other due to time zone differences.

E-mail

With the invention of the Internet, e-mail has become a most popular method for communicating, similar to writing letters. Although it is considered much faster in comparison to writing letters, having Internet difficulties easily take the effectiveness out of it, but does not happen often. E-mail is also accessible anywhere as long as both partners can get to a computer.

Instant Messaging

Further advancement of e-mail and Internet capabilities led to the birth of the Instant Messaging service. The fastest and arguably best method for being with a significant other abroad, it is inexpensive and accessible almost anywhere, as long as both partners are at a terminal. Allows voice conversations when both people have microphones. Similar to e-mail, having Internet difficulties easily reduces the effectiveness of it.

Care Packages

This is a more creative method of sending mail to a significant other studying abroad. When used properly, this technique may assist the traveler with re-entry shock, commonly experienced by people who go abroad. The reason is because it not only includes written letters, but also tokens from things partners usually do together (like attend meetings) serving as a portal into the world the traveler temporarily left. The more creativity each couple has, the more effective this method becomes, based on the interests of the couple.