Skype keeps study abroad students

Samantha Tosado

Ashley Angresano, junior fashion design major, finishes her classes in Florence, Italy, then sits down at her computer in the afternoon to catch up with her friends at home.

But instead of sending e-mails, she uses Skype, a video messaging system, to talk to – and see – her friends.

“It is convenient at night once everyone is at home and can sit down near their computers,” Angresano said, referring to the time change., a free video chat Web site founded in 2003, is now starting to gain popularity. According to the Web site, “Skype is available in 28 different languages and is used in almost every country around the world.”

Communication studies professor Lorie Hopp said she thinks “skyping” adds the face-to-face dimension that is lost in traditional forms of electronic communication.

“It adds a vital element to the communication process, the nonverbal element,” Hopp said. “It adds a rich nonverbal dimension that is lost in e-mail, cells and texting.”

Hopp said she has never personally used video chat, but thinks more people will start to use it.

“If it provides immediate response and ease of use,” she said. “It will probably become very popular in the future.”

Students studying abroad choose Skype because it is easy and free.

“It’s saving me a lot of money, and it’s great for people overseas who would normally have to pay high fees to talk to people internationally,” Angresano said.

Molly Miller, junior fashion merchandising major who is also studying abroad in Florence, said video messaging seems more personal.

“I like that I can see my mom and friends when I am talking to them,” Miller said. “It feels like I’m having a normal conversation.”

While some students feel that skyping is a better alternative, others have a different approach.

Nicole Cicchitti, junior fashion merchandising major, said Skype is useful but not always satisfying.

“It is not always convenient to get on your computer in Italy,” Cicchitti said. “The Internet is slower and less reliable here.”

Cicchitti said she would much rather use her cell phone despite the expenses.

“I often get frustrated with the Internet disconnecting me, so I just pick up my phone,” she said. “That is probably why I have an expensive phone bill.”

Senior history major Brad Smith said he doesn’t believe that ordinary college students use Skype often.

“It’s more for the business world,” Smith said. “I’d much prefer using a cell phone because it’s more practical.”

Contact news correspondent Samantha Tosado at [email protected].