Authored by a student from Stanford University
June 22, 2021
Read Time: 8 mins
Two autumns ago, I stepped foot onto the palm-lined streets of Stanford University. Having just traveled over 9,000 miles from Singapore on my own, I breathed a sigh of relief as I sunk into the mattress of the bottom bunk.
Over the next couple of days, I settled in, learning to navigate campus dining halls, off-campus transportation methods, and setting up all my electronics devices. Everything was pretty well-mapped for me—the school had built-in systems for welcoming students from abroad. Yet, not everything went as smoothly as I’d anticipated. My first unpleasant surprise came from a visit to the AT&T store.
Hoping to have my cell phone set up quickly, I headed to a nearby store the day after I moved in. I had expected a quick process, but I got anything but that.
The first of many nuisances was the line I had to wait in to get help. I was perhaps the fourth in line but was forced to wait almost 45 minutes before a representative was able to help me. Once I got help, they erroneously told me they would help me get set up “real quick.” I was presented with a few data options—an array of GB options and unlimited data. I saw the price of unlimited and balked—I’d have to manage with 1 GB for the month of September.
The painstaking process didn’t stop there. Getting me a SIM card took almost 30 minutes—they had just run out of SIM cards and had to restock from a nearby store. Soon after getting the SIM card, there occurred an error in the setup process that caused another 10 minute delay. All in all, I spent two hours in the AT&T store—just for a simple cell phone setup.
My next unpleasant surprise came a mere two weeks later. As a rookie Californian, I had no sense of how long 1 GB would last. After a few trips off-campus (and off-wifi) with friends, I had exhausted my cell phone data stash via Google Maps, Google search, and play one two-minute video. It was to my disdain and inconvenience that I had to, once again, enter the AT&T store.
Buying more data has always been a chore—it almost seems that wireless carriers punish you with exorbitant prices for underestimating your data usage. At AT&T, for example, a mere 1 GB is $10—that’s barely enough to cover streaming a 20 min video.
Since those days of buying data through domestic carriers, I’ve found other means of purchasing additional data. After scouring the web for easy means of purchasing additional data, an international friend of mine, from New Zealand, recommended that I look into eSIM-based data providers. Upon asking her what eSIM (embedded SIM) was, she explained that it’s essentially a SIM card simulator that’s connected to a network/carrier—and most importantly, can be activated remotely. No more hassle of visiting a physical store and handling a physical SIM card the size of your nail (one fumble and it’s nowhere to be found)! She told me the most common eSIM provider among the international students’ community is Nomad, a Stanford-based startup that provides eSIM-based data. I heard that Nomad offers identical data speeds as AT&T, Verizon, etc., but at half their price. Plus, you get to keep your phone number, no matter where you are in the world!
After my discovery of eSIM-based data providers, I’ve never turned back to traditional SIM cards. Adding data to my existing plan has never been easier; those painstaking waits at the AT&T store seem like a distant memory. To all my international friends: save your time and convert to eSIM—more data is SIMply a few taps away!
Nomad now offers a special promo to all the international students. Use code "NOMADSTUDENT", to get "$10 for 3GB US or CAN data" deal!