Marist-LdM housing is not equipped with landline telephones. So the most common way of staying in touch abroad is via cell phone - A handy device that you probably already know inside and out. Some students and their families debate whether they should get an international cell phone and what kind of cell phone to get. The following information is offered to help you make an educated decision.
Do I really need a cell phone?
Since the cell phone is the most common way for students to stay in touch Marist-LdM strongly recommends that students organize a cell phone. Cell phones not only allow both family and friends to stay in touch but it also allows Marist-LdM Administrators to reach students quickly and effectively. Cell phones are also invaluable during emergencies.
One of the most commonly debated cell phone issues is what is the best way to organize a cell phone? The answer to this quandary varies from family to family depending on lifestyle. The following information can help you decide what is the best approach for you.
US Cell Contracts vs. Italian Cell Contracts
U.S. phones will be assigned U.S. numbers this means that when making local calls (i.e. for a taxi) that these calls are international.
The majority of Marist-LdM students secure Italian phones and will have Italian numbers. Calling Italian number to Italian number is a local call. Students have reported that if they had a U.S. number often their friends wouldn’t call them on it due to cost of the call.
U.S. cell phone companies can have steep international calling rates. Some companies charge $2.99 and up per minute for calls generated from and received while overseas. Be sure you are clear on your companies overseas rates – note these rates can vary from country to country.
Tech support and cell phone replacement can be difficult from international locations.
Carriers from other countries vs. Italian Cell Carriers
European students may be able to use their mobile phones from home, though should check with their providers for rates. Rates, especially from European carrier to carrier are often better than rates from the U.S. to various European countries. Our Europe based students have given the feedback that since rates are reasonable they usually keep their personal cell phones.
How do I get an Italian Cell Phone?
Marist-LdM offers students international cell phone packages, discounted cell phones and SIM cards via Platform 3000/Piccell Wireless. Since Platform is a registered company in the U.S. and Europe you will find that they offer several plans similar to the plans offered by your U.S. carriers. Like US carriers these plans have fine print. Be sure you read the details of the contract closely. Marist-LdM is not responsible for any transactions or arrangements between the student and Platform.
Marist-LdM students can sign up for Piccell phones and services through the following link. If you order your phone more than two weeks before departure the phone will be shipped to you at your home address. So that you will have it while you travel.
Piccell phones work in most European countries allowing students to carry them while they travel. (Note like U.S. carries Piccell rates may vary from country to country)
Benefits of the Marist-LdM Piccell Contract:
- Free phone rental
- Phone shipped to U.S. before departure
- Free incoming calls (including U.S.)
- Low rates to call Europe, U.S. and Canada
- Customer service located in U.S. and Europe
- You choose rental period
- View bill online in U.S. dollars
- Functional throughout Europe
- Voicemail in English
- SMS messaging, call waiting, caller ID
- Lost/stolen insurance offers
- Platform office in Florence to assist with problems
- Marist can communicate via text to all phones linked to Marist-LdM program in case of emergencies
Do I have to use Platform/PicCell?
Not at all. Though after years of partnership and student reviews, Marist-LdM has found them to be one of the better companies offering cell service to study abroad students we encourage all students to explore all available options.
Pay Per Use Phones - Students can rent pay per use phones upon arrival. Feedback from former students is that this can become a more expensive option. Pay per use phones have higher fees for calling out of Italy.
Using an Italian SIM in Your Own Phone - Some students have used this option, though it is usually an expensive one. Even phones that accept Italian SIM cards often have additional fees – so be sure to read the fine print when looking at this option!
Italian Cell Carriers - There are additional Italian cell carriers that students can research and consider. Feedback has been that some students struggle to navigate these companies due to language barriers and contract stipulations.
How to stay in touch with home?
Skype is a relatively inexpensive option for keeping in touch with friends and family: http://www.skype.com
E-mail is relatively inexpensive, if not cost-free. E-mail access may be limited, depending on the host institution's computer facilities. Cybercafes can be found in most cities.