There are many ways you can stay in touch with your friends and family while you are studying.
Cellular (cell) or mobile phones
Depending on where you are from, you might find Canadian cell phone services more expensive than you are used to. Providers typically charge for incoming calls, whereas in many other countries incoming calls are free and you only pay for outgoing calls. Additionally, a system access fee is often added to your monthly bill and you typically pay extra for services such as text messaging, voice mail etc.
Only a few providers use SIM cards in Canada. Most have proprietary systems that require you to use a phone from the specific provider which might prohibit you from using your existing cell phone. Therefore, if you are from outside Canada, it may be useful to buy a Canadian cell phone from your preferred provider.
It is worth researching contract and "pay as you go" plans offered by companies before buying a new phone. You can check the Wikipedia entry about Canadian mobile phone providers, some of which are listed below:
- Bell Mobility
- Rogers Wireless
- Telus Mobility
- 7Eleven SpeakOut (uses SIM card)
- Freedom Mobile
- Virgin Mobile Canada
Please note: you’ll need to show two pieces of identification (ID) before you can get a contract.
Landlines are often a cheaper way of phoning home, especially if you can share the rental fee with your housemates. Local calls from landlines are free of charge, to both local landlines and local cell phones.
Major service providers include:
Using a service like Skype on your computer can also save you money; especially on long distance calls. The quality of the call can be variable depending on your connection speed.
If you have your own laptop, Vancouver has a huge range of WiFi spots. The UBC campus is covered with wireless networks for students.
Prepaid telephone cards enable you to call for a certain period of time at a set rate per minute. These can be bought online or in phone stores and newsagents. You’ll need to enter a PIN number on the back of the card and then you are free to make your call.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies does not recommend any commercial enterprises but provides this list of local services for information only.