Presenting 3 options to staying in touch with family in Africa alongside their pros, cons and firsthand experiences with them.
You have finally arrived. You step off the plane, go through to customs, you’re your way to baggage claim, get your bag and exit to Arrivals where you see loved ones running into each other’s embrace. There are no familiar faces, but the content of making it and making it safely is enough to keep you going. Welcome to America.
Fast-forward 3 weeks later and you feel things that some may call homesickness. You have been living the American dream- or not- but either way, something is triggered in you causing you to yearn for familiarity.Over the last 21 days, you have grown accustomed to unlimited high speed internet, and download all kinds of apps to your smartphone. You have been exchanging WhatsApp messages, but that is not enough. Sometime you want to call them; see their faces, hear their voices. You understand that internet connection is not as affordable, accessible or reliable on their end, so you must find a way that works for both of you.
Here are some of the ways students in the Diaspora have been staying connected with family members back home
Pro: Face-to-face option
“About once a month or two, I talk to my parents in Cameroon via Skype. It is free for me, but expensive for them to purchase internet that would be fast enough to enable a fluid conversation, and last longer than a few minutes. If I call their cell phones directly with my Skype credit, it nets out to about $20-25 a week for me, which really adds up” – Student, Los Angeles
Pro: Free calls
Con: Consumes internet for recipient
“I use WhatsApp more for chatting with friends and family overseas. Once in a while, I have voice calls on the App. While this is free for me and my friends with unlimited internet plans, my family in Senegal must pay for WhatsApp use—even just messaging. Technically they are paying for the internet, not the app, but still.
– Young professional, Pittsburg
Pro: Cheap, reliable, no internet needed for call recipient
Con: Not face-to-face
“Spent speaking to an hour with a friend in Nigeria for £1.50 after topping up £5. Very impressed with quality of sound and the quality for money. Highly recommend to download and use this app if you have friends or family abroad, use this app only to make calls outside of US. Very efficient and reliable, even offers texts at extremely cheap rates! Major bargain guys. Regards Hope”