Studying abroad technology tips

Posted on: January 21, 2015 | By: Ryan Gay | Filed under: Tech Tips

Most Elon students12365643713_47cbceae2d_o study abroad at some point in their undergraduate education. This winter term, a record number of Elon students took advantage of opportunities to study abroad. While this is an exciting time in the life of any student, it is also important that those studying abroad be mindful of technology considerations to limit their impact on your trip.

Account access

If you have trouble accessing any of your accounts while studying abroad, the Technology Service Desk is here to help. However, due to federal regulations, we are unable to assist with account password resets if someone other than the account holder (e.g., parents) call in for password resets. If you find yourself studying abroad and locked out of your email or Moodle account, first try our Self-Service Password Maintenance Site. If you are still unable to access your account, you will need to contact the Technology Service Desk directly. We recommend purchasing low-cost calling cards available at most newspaper vendors overseas. Another alternative is to contact us by email at to setup a Skype call.

Be mindful of cellular data use

Smartphones and tablets are great tools for keeping in touch with others while abroad. But, you should always be mindful of your wireless connections while in another country. If you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network and still using data, you are most likely utilizing roaming cellular data, which may carry hefty costs. It’s always important to check with your cellular carrier about your data package and where international roaming charges may apply. Another option is to put your phone in airplane mode until you find a Wi-Fi hotspot. However, if you are connected to a free wireless network in your area, you should be free of worrying about roaming charges.

International power adapters

If you are using an international power adapter while abroad, never leave your device charging unattended. Each device may charge with an international adapter differently, and could cause unintended effects on your device as a result. If you notice that your power adapter heats up quickly, it’s good practice to limit just how much you use the adapter to charge your device. Otherwise, you could end up ruining the battery.

Get replacement parts from home

Finally, if something breaks on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone while overseas, replacing parts won’t be as easy as hitting up the closest Apple store or Best Buy-equivalent. Unfortunately, some technology is not built the same in the United States as it may be in New Zealand, Germany, or South Korea. Technology abroad could rely on different coding or power voltage, which when inserted in a U.S. device could cause failure. This has been the case for several members of Elon who purchased power cords for their laptops overseas, only to find that the different voltage fried their machine. It may be a little more costly upfront, but your best bet would be to purchase replacement components from home and have them expedited overseas to your destination.

If you have questions about technology while studying abroad, feel free to contact the Technology Service Desk at

Image by Flickr user Elon University


Ryan Gay

Ryan is the Manager of Service Management & IT Project Lead for Instructional & Campus Technologies. He has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from UNC-Greensboro.

More Posts - Website


3 responses to “Studying abroad technology tips”

  1. Rijalda says:

    I studied abroad and racked up a cellphone bill in the thousands. Biggest mistake of my life.

  2. Rhonda Waller says:

    Great resource! Thanks for posting this…

  3. Jovan Lee says:

    I would like to add another point and that is to bring extra batteries and chargers when you are studying abroad, especially those can be recharged. In certain countries (think third-world) , power sockets might not be a rampant avenue for electricity in their facilities and you might have a hard time charging your dying laptop. So having some extra boost to your technological device will certain make your life much easier.