I was telling a friend yesterday, during our ladies day out to almost die at Mount Aso (from toxic gases that set off the warning system), that me and my mom are super close, and so that fine mother/daughter-love/hate thing runs rampant in our relationship. You know the old story, the closer you are to someone, the easier it is for them to hurt you, and for you to hurt them. But, what makes that vulnerability worth it, is that relationships like that last over time and space. Nothing can change a love so strong.
So, of course, we hang up on each other a lot. She hangs up on me a lot more than I hang up on her. I think she just gets upset a lot easier, but we definitely test each other equally.
Anyway, I was telling my friend how we hang up on each other all the time. (Peter knows that, and the other morning when he was still dozing on the couch, he heard me excitedly, but with good humor, explaining my point, and then the click of the phone with no goodbye, and he started laughing. He knew she had hung up on me. And we had a laugh.) So, my point is, my friend asked me how I can talk on the phone in Japan to my mom in the USA. The answer is THE MAGIC JACK!! (I wish I could make it echo.)
Everyone studying, working, or living abroad should know about the magic jack. It's $20 from Radio Shack. You pay $20 for a phone number and 1 year of service. That's it. Once I had done that, I was set to talk to anyone in the United States for 1 year, as much as I wanted. AND I have a 727- Florida phone number, which means that anyone in the 727- area and anyone in the United States with a cell phone can call me in Japan like they would call anyone else that is Pinellas County or USA local. It comes with voice mail, too, and I'm pretty sure there are deals in many other countries besides Japan and the US.
Here are the very few inconveniences: I didn't know that I had to have a regular phone with a cord and a jack to use this thing, so when I FINALLY got Internet in Japan, about 6 weeks after I had arrived, I plugged the thing into my USB, started doing the set up, and then realized that I still couldn't talk to anyone because I didn't have a phone. It really was devastating. Moving across the world is not easy my friends, and being in a very new and different place, cut off from the world with no e-mail and no phone made me feel very claustrophobic...
I would wake up in the middle of the night during the first couple of months, terrified. I would know where I was, but not know where THAT was, and I would know that I could get up and walk around, but to go WHERE? Nowhere familiar. Nowhere safe. I knew that I could get on a plane and go home... but I couldn't. I had a job. A family. I was paralyzed. I felt buried alive for a few moments on those nights. I wouldn't understand my own description, I don't think, had I not experienced it.
So, the magic jack needs a phone. Within a few days I snagged a phone from another JET that had an extra in the closet (It takes a village). You plug the magic jack into your computer and you plug the phone jack into the magic jack. Then you are in business. The other inconvenience is that your computer has to be on and the MJ program has to be running, or you just won't get your calls (until you check voice mail), and if you want to make a quick call, you first have to get the mac going, plug in the MJ, start the program, and then make your call. But, it really is very convenient, and it's definitely the most cost efficient method of calling from Japan that I have heard of. I just signed up for my 2nd year of Magic Jack. $20. Easy.
So, my mom and I can talk for hours, and when the time comes, we can hang up on each other and call each other back as often as we want, for one low price. ;-) Every JET, at least, should have a Magic Jack. And an awesome mom.