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service and contract solutions for traveling college students?

I am from Connecticut, but I go to school in Massachusetts. When I sign up for service, should I be looking in my home zip code or my school zip code? I probably use the phone more often at school, but it's a huge benefit to be able to call my parents on a local number, since colleges and universities jack up prices for their landlines so much! Does it make a difference?

Also, beyond moving back and forth all the time, I plan to study abroad in the Spring, and therefore will be out of the US for 5-7 months. Obviously, paying for service on a phone that lies untouched in the states is a real turn off. But if I sign up for a Verizon service plan now, I will be under contract for 1-2 years.

Right now I use Cingular, which works wonderfully at home, but not so well at school. Verizon is consistently highly rated by students who use the service on my campus, so naturally I'm very tempted to switch to a service that will be realiable for the next eight months before I leave the country, and for at least two years after I return to school in the states. What do you suggest for students in this situation?



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