The hardest part about living abroad is being so far away from the people I love the most. A lot of people I work with are lucky in that they can fly home on their days off, or get flights home and have a quick 24 hour layover. I know people who go home once or twice a month. On the other hand, it takes me around 20 hours to get home, with a massive time change, and the closest layover is a minimum 3 hour drive from home.
It has been just over eight months, and I still haven’t been home. It will have been close to ten months by the time I finally make my way back. Luckily, I have seen my parents and sister on a couple of layovers, which makes the distance a bit more bearable, but in between those rare visits, here are a few of the things I do to keep in touch with my friends and family back home!
1) Video Calls (e.g. Skype & Facetime) – My number one favourite way to keep in touch! An obvious choice, because the conversation is done face to face. Whenever I get the chance, I am skyping my mom (and my dad – he usually makes a guest appearance in the background). When I say “whenever I get the chance”, I’m not kidding. On my most recent layover in New York, I was doing some solo shopping in Nordstrom Rack and I needed a second opinion. I conveniently discovered there was WiFi available, so of course, I sent my mom (my longtime shopping buddy) a Facetime. Over and over, until she answered me. Thanks to her, I became the new owner of a lovely Michael Kors leather jacket. And what inspired this post was that two of my good friends (and Thailand travel buddies) reunited after one had been living in Australia for the past year. We had a much needed skype session, and it was fantastic to see their faces, especially together!
2) Voice calls (e.g. Viber) – I have Viber installed on my phone, but I’ve never actually used it. Sometimes though, I look so tired and terrible that I would probably prefer to be chatting without the video! Occasionally I do skype calls without the video, but very rarely. I will almost always choose a video call over a voice only call. It’s a handy option, especially if you are busy doing something and moving around, but want to do some catching up at the same time.
3) Messaging (e.g. Texting, Whatsapp & Facebook chat) – This is perfect for those quick little messages, like sharing a funny story, planning a good time to Skype, or sending them a video or article. With the time difference, it’s often hard to find a good time to skype, so with some of my friends, this is our most used form of communication.
4) Other forms of social media (e.g. Instagram & Snapchat) – I love seeing pictures and videos of the daily happenings in my friends lives. With the friends and family that I skype often, we have conversations that are more similar to the kind that we would have back home. If the sole form of communication is via text/Whatsapp/Facebook, then it tends to be a more lighthearted conversation, with the occasional “life update”. So for me, it’s fun to keep up on my friends’ lives through their pictures and videos, and it’s a good way to keep them updated on my adventures as well.
5) Email – I obviously love to write, and emails are no exception! My family is the sole recipients of this one, with lengthy descriptions of my layovers. Years ago after graduating from high school, one of my good friends moved away for university. We communicated almost entirely through email. We could likely form a book from those emails, as there were so many and they were so long (especially from me). Times have changed, and with the availability of more instant communication (even though majority of people get emails directly to their phones), my friends and I never use email. I don’t even think I know most of their new and updated (aka more professional sounding) addresses. Email is perfect for friends/family that don’t use Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s also a good way to share pictures/stories that you don’t want available for all eyes to see.
6) Postcards (Or even letters!) – I sent postcards from almost every city I went to when I backpacked around Europe, to friends and family. I always loved receiving them from friends when I was grinding away in my regular day-to-day life. I had good intentions while in Thailand, but instead of sending any out, I ended up with postcard collection in my backpack. Eventually, they were hand delivered when I returned home. Oops! A handwritten letter can also be a nice surprise. I skip this as I have the writing of a child. I’ve actually met children with better writing than myself.
7) Blog – Blogging is a fantastic way to keep people updated, with stories, and pictures. It gives them the ability to comment on different posts, and is a way to keep everyone informed at the same time. It’s also a nice memory to look back on once you’re home. Some people also keep a Vlog, which is a fun and unique way to keep everyone updated – and a good alternative if you don’t like writing!
There are so many ways to keep in touch. The important thing for me, is that no matter how busy I am, I make an effort to stay updated on my family and friends lives, and I continue updating them on mine.
What’s your favourite way to keep in touch?