Being able to communicate, not only with my host family in both Spain and France, but also with my friends and family back home was very important to me. Figuring out what to do about the cellphone issue abroad was something I had tried figuring out long before even getting on the plane. I knew I would be primarily be communicating through Whatsapp, so data was a must. I asked many students who had studied abroad and went online to see what the best solution would be. Do I get an international plan or do I get a SIM card and put it in my phone?
I found out from my carrier in the United States that getting an international plan would be expensive, so that was out of the question. During orientation week in Spain, I went with some of the other students in my program to get a phone. Many students ended up buying a small pay-as-you-go phone. I decided I wanted to put a Spanish SIM card into my smartphone. I ended up buying one from the carrier Orange.
Every month I paid 15€ to get 2 GB of data. I had a certain amount of credit on my phone to make calls and send texts but I didn’t really end up using it. For me, as long as I could use Whatsapp and Google Maps, I was fine. This plan worked out pretty well for me until December, specifically my last few weeks in Spain. My phone shut off my data, even though when I looked at it I knew that I did not use up 2 GB. I always had extra data remaining that I would lose at the end of the month when I had to go recharge my phone, so I knew this was not normal. Long story short: it took me losing at least 10€-15€ to find out that I had a faulty SIM card, which was weird considering I never had a problem with it until that point. I ended up finding out that I accumulated 2 GB of data that I was not able to use. Good thing it was my last couple of weeks in Madrid. As the song in Frozen goes, I just “let it go.”
In France, it was recommended that students use Orange. As much as I did not want to, I decided to give it another chance and bought a French SIM card. The plans in France were not the same as the plans offered in Spain. The only plan I could get that would provide data was a 20€ plan that would give me unlimited calls/texts and 600Mo or (1 GB, or so I was told) of data. So far, I have had to recharge my phone twice before the month was up even though I was tracking my data usage and knew that I did not use up all my data. I wish there was a way to just buy data and not this 20€ unlimited phone plan, considering I almost never make calls and my phone cannot send text messages for some reason. I have tried to go to Orange and get these problems fixed but no one has been helpful. As of right now, I ran out of data two weeks before having to recharge my phone, so I waited until this morning to pay the 20€. I am beyond frustrated with this phone company and it seems as though I am not the only student having problems with it. However, I do not know a lot about how pay-as-you-go plans work. I will stick with this same plan for the next month or so before I go back to the United States. If I were staying here longer then I would try harder to find a solution but it isn’t worth it.