The UK has excellent communications services, which will make it simple for you to keep in contact with friends and family back home. The postal service and telecommunications network are fast and reliable, and it should be easy for you to gain access to email and the internet.
There are many ways to phone home, but the cheapest might be to buy a pre-paid phonecard. They come in different values like £5, £10 and £20, and you can buy them in newsagents, post offices and supermarkets. Make sure you check the rates carefully though, as the costs of a phone call will differ between cards.
National and international calls are cheapest between 6pm and 8am on weekday evenings, and at weekends (from 12pm on Friday to 12pm on Sunday).
To phone someone overseas, dial 00, then the country code, followed by the number (usually without the first 0). If you are having problems with your call, you could dial 155. And directory enquiries call be reached on 118 505 to find a number.
Your mobile phone from home may work in the UK, but receiving and making calls can be very expensive. If you are staying for a long course, it is easy to buy a UK mobile. Sometimes the phone will come free if you sign a contract for a year or you can choose a 'pay-as-you-go' option.
If you are only staying for a short time, it's possible to buy a special SIM card for international students in the UK that you can use in your own phone. These usually give cheap rates for calling overseas. See the GSM International website for more details.
You will be able to access the internet and email accounts from lots of places, including some cafes, libraries, your halls of residence, and perhaps even your room. The majority of language centres, colleges and universities provide free internet access for their students, sometimes in special computer rooms or via Wifi in public areas.
Mobile broadband is becoming popular in the UK. There are a large number of high street providers and you can choose to pay monthly on a contract or pay-as-you-go. Some offer special discount packages for students. With mobile broadband you can access the internet at home or on the move - all you need is a USB modem (sometimes called a dongle!).
Post offices are usually open on Monday to Friday (9.00am to 5.30pm) and on Saturdays (from 9.00am to 12.30pm). You can buy any stamps you need at newsagents, supermarkets and some other shops, and from special vending machines located near post offices.
For more about the Post Office, visit the Royal Mail website at www.royalmail.com.