Amateur radio operators all over the world are able to speak directly to astronauts/cosmonauts via their handheld, mobile, or home radio stations. Low power radios and small antennas can be used to establish communications. It is also possible to send digital data to the space station via laptop computers hooked up to the same radio and antenna, similar to an email communication, except that it uses radio frequencies instead of telephone or cable connections.
The space station occupants work a standard work day and have breaks in the evening and during meals. While on break, some of them will spend some time communicating with "earthlings" via amateur radio.