One of the main considerations for international students studying in the UK is how they can keep in contact with friends and family back home.
There are many ways you can keep in touch at a reasonably low cost.
All students of the University are given free access to the University network, allowing you free web and email services.
Inland mail in the UK can be sent either first or second class. First class mail is generally delivered the following day; second class can take longer. You can buy stamps from the post office and in many shops, including supermarkets and newsagents.
Mail can be posted at a post office or in the red pillar boxes on the street. These also show the collection times on the front. They are quite common and can be found on most main streets as well as in some of the larger supermarkets.
If you wish to send objects or items overseas, the cost will depend on the weight of the parcel. You should ask post office staff to work out the exact cost for you.
You can buy postal orders or overseas money orders to send in the mail instead of cash or cheques. You can also order foreign currency, travellers cheques (no commission is charged) and transfer money electronically through the post office.
International direct dialling
You can dial direct to over 180 countries from the UK. There may be cheap rate periods for direct-dial calls to Europe and North America (usually between 6.00pm and 8.00am every day) but this will depend on the telephone company.
To dial overseas you will need to dial in sequence:
00 + Country code + Area code (minus initial "0" or "9") + Local number.
Country codes and area codes are listed on the website for International Directory Enquiries.
Transfer costs and reversed charges
It is possible to transfer the cost of a phone call so that the person you are calling pays for it. To make a reversed-charge call, dial 155 for the UK international operator and ask for a reversed-charge call.
The person you are calling will be asked if they accept the charge. It can often be a more expensive phone call.
Dialling instructions can be found on most public payphones. Standard payphones accept 10p, 20p, 50p and £1 coins and some will allow you to insert a debit or credit card.
These calls can be expensive, especially overseas, so it's best to get a phone card.
Mobile phones (cellphones)
You may prefer to use a mobile phone instead of a landline (fixed telephone line) to your accommodation.
You should be very careful about making international phone calls from your mobile as costs can be very high. If you already have a mobile, you may be able to use it quite cheaply in the UK – check with your local service provider before you come to Manchester.
There are two types of mobile phone usually available in Britain:
Pay As You Go
You pay a fixed rate for the handset and SIM card and then pay for calls as you make them. You top up your mobile with extra credit, which you can buy at most supermarkets, post offices and newsagents. This means you can keep control of your spending more easily. However, call costs can be more expensive.
You pay a monthly rental cost, with various tariff extras (sometimes including free minutes). The handset is usually free and the amount you spend on your phone is debited from your bank account every month.
The contract periods are usually for a minimum of 12 months, so it can sometimes be hard for international students to get contract phones.