At our pre-departure orientation given by the college, if it is at all possible, I left with more questions than answers. The big worry for someone who is very close to their family and friends? The person who receives 2+ calls a day from home? That’s me.
And, I will admit it, I am madly in love and therefore obsessed with my phone. Since the minute I saw the promos for the Samsung Galaxy S3 during the summer 2012 Olympics, I coveted. My whole apartment knew. “That’s the phone I REALLY want!” I’d say. To which I would get a, “We know, Kaley.” Needless to say, I love technology. I love the modern ease of communication and the many methods which I can communicate. Just as long as I have this thing glued to my hand, right?
However, where I’m from, the most reliable service comes from a carrier that no one in Boston has any idea of: U.S. Cellular. I’ve had the same cellphone number for nine freakin’ years and change isn’t going to happen very soon. I’ve had good luck with U.S. Cellular. I’ve been boating in the middle of a lake or a mile offshore and have still been able to get service. I have 4G when I’m home, but for some reason, not in metro and Metrowest Boston. With this mystery carrier, I have enough problems figuring out what will and will not be charged as roaming. Going international with a carrier who no one knows of even 300 miles away? Nah.
The answer? At this orientation, we were inundated with information regarding our cellphone service.
- Make sure to turn off your 3G.
- Take out your SIM card.
- Your iPhone will be fine.
- There’s wifi in public places, but it is very slow.
- You can buy a Chinese domestic SIM card for $20-$50.
- Google Voice
- Just check your carrier!
Just all of these snippets of information. And, as a devout user of the Android OS, I more or less tuned out. For those of us who could never afford an iPhone and whose carriers don’t support such wholly technology, I was at a loss. Do I even have a SIM card? Did I just ask myself that?
Skype, I think. I know Skype. Skype got me through my first semester of college. And then I looked at our schedule and I thought, there’s no way in hell I will have time to Skype.
Google Voice sounds cool. I checked it out. Glaringly in the PlayStore: “Currently only available in the U.S.” Problem.
The beautifully designed answer to my problem?
textPlus, an app for both operating systems, is not only gorgeous but just what I need. It works about the same as GoogleVoice, creating a new number for you from which on a wifi connection, you can text (free) and make high-quality voice calls (2cents a minute from the PRC, with a starting credit of 10cents).
The great thing about this? I don’t like to talk on the phone. I hate it. I’ve been with my significant other for almost four years and we’ve only talked on the phone a number of times. So, given that I will be staying on a college campus and have access to an American VPN — if necessary, I think it’s safe to say I should be squared away. Droppin’ messages before or after lectures to prove the maintenance of my existence? I can do that.
Now let’s pray that Candy Crush Saga will run on just wifi.