As a Brazilian graduate student who just moved 5,000 miles from home, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say I share the fixation many of my American friends have towards their cell phones. I am, however, a huge fan of Skype.
My family and I discovered Skype about a year ago (I think it was a friend in IT who first told us about it) and since then itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s become the official family communication medium. Even my Grandmother, who is over 70 years old and lives with my parents in Porto Alegre, Brazil, learned how to use the computer so she could talk to her other daughter in Buenos Aires and her son in Rio de Janeiro on a daily basis (proving that senior citizens can and will learn how to use new-age technologies, they just need to see compelling benefits in doing so).
So when I rented my apartment in Muncie, I promptly set up my away-from-home survival kit: my trusty IBM ThinkPad, loaded with the latest version of Skype software, and a brand-new Creative webcam purchased at Walmart. With it, I talk to my family and friends every day, for as long as I want, for FREE! Need I say how wonderful it is to hear their voices and see their smiling faces as I tell them about my life here in the States? Trust me, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s priceless!
Since I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a land line, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m always logged into Skype: when I go out, I simply change the status to Ã¢â‚¬Å“AwayÃ¢â‚¬Â and let it record any calls that come in during my absence (a much more reliable system than having a roommate take a message). And if someone I need to reach is offline, I leave them an instant message on SkypeChat (which BTW has much cuter emoticons than MSN Messenger and the likes).
No wonder Skype already has over 100 million users around the globe....