The Williams College SIM Chip Library is a collection of chips that enable the use of GSM cell phones in other countries. The library is currently maintained by Professor Sam Crane, chair of the International Studies Program. all SIM chips can be borrowed free of charge by Williams students for as long as needed (i.e. including study abroad). Returning travelers can donate their SIM chips to Professor Crane, but remember to post the relevant information here!
Why SIM Chips?
Once you leave the US, your phone stops working, and each country has a different network. In order to use your GSM (Cingular, T-Mobile) cell phone abroad (which can be invaluable if you're doing research or journalism and need to be constantly available), you'll need to get a SIM chip, which connects the phone with the national network. Once you get the chip working in your phone, you automatically have a local cell phone number (encoded in the chip) and can make local calls, send SMS text messages, etc.
Two things to note about making international calls: (1) Phoning home on the cell can be extremely expensive under most plans; it is almost always easier to buy a pay-phone card, charge the call to a pre-paid US plan (Alan Cordova was able to do this in Mexico but not elsewhere) or 'buy' a fixed number of minutes of international calls (many Internet cafés offer this). (2) If you're across the world, remember the time differences. (note to Sadie Miller: 10 AM Williamstown time is 11 PM in Mongolia and Tuesday is Hash House Harriers night! :)
The easiest SIMs to use are prepaid chips, which can be refilled relatively cheaply by buying 'points' or 'minutes' at news stands or tech shops. When buying them, make sure to have a knowledgeable sales representative help with the installation of the chip - they will know how to test it properly.
Why the SIM Chip Library?
- The SIM chips themselves are often expensive (up to $45). If you're the only Williams student in a particular country, there's no reason why you should have to pay this.
- The process of getting a SIM chip in a foreign country can be tricky, especially if you are not well versed in the native language's technical jargon. Alan Cordova had to have locals help him in the land of Monty Python-esque bureaucratic entanglements.
- Students can pass along valuable local contacts such as former CDE students and the occasional Williams alumnus.