If you’ve ever moved away from home or have been living abroad for any length of time then you know the guilt and effort that goes into not seeing everyone enough and keeping in touch.
I know I do.
Living a continent away from family and friends is tough. Planning your vacations to “go home” every year and visit is stressful. You need to condense as much time as possible into a few short days while still trying to actually have a break.
There is family drama to catch up on; gossip about old schoolmates to revel in; and food to be eaten that you can’t find in your newly adopted country (I have yet to make it back to Italy weighing less than what I weighed before leaving.)
If you do want to minimize the time you spend catching up and maximize the time you spend gettin’ down then you should employ these 3 strategies to keep the good vibes flowing while abroad.
SpoiledExpat’s Top 3 Tips for Keeping in Touch
1. Video calls/FaceTime You wouldn’t believe how much more engaging a chat is with family and friends when you can see them right in front of you. My favorite older male cousin (of which I only have one – Ha!) and I sometime FaceTime with our iPhones/iPads and have a drink together. We’ve given each other impromptu tours of our houses and watched my fox terrier have one of his manic fits in the living room.
I can share moments with my family and let them see and talk to their only grandchild (since no one else in the family seems to be in any hurry 😉 ) and show off our beautiful weather or lunch at the same time. Video chats are almost like being there. Of course they do sometimes need a bit of a tutorial on how video and placement works – I’ve often spent entire video chats watching only my grandmother’s forehead. It’s not that I don’t like it, but the whole video really loses something – ya know?
2. Group chats on WhatsApp I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a chat app on their phone or computer nowadays. Aside from being a great way to send a quick message at no cost, creating a group chat lets you share funny things, stories, pics, or snippets of your day with your friends who may be living in places all over the world or just down the street. A few of my best girlfriends and I often create group chats to share and “comment on” various life experiences and bad photos of people that we know. Don’t judge me; you’ve done it too.
My husband has a running group chat with a couple friends and they chat daily, hearing about the last tryst that the resident Bachelor has embroiled himself in and mercilessly poking fun at his antics. Group chats are an excellent way to keep in touch with short bursts in the day that don’t require the same level of attention as video. You can read and respond when you have time, in those few moments between meetings, or while out walking the dog (or cat, but seriously, cats on leashes, I’m sorry, but it’s all kinds of wrong), or waiting for your pasta water to boil.
3. Phone call dates. This one takes a bit of dedication but is completely worth it. I have had a running phone call date with my mom since I moved out 15 years ago. My first few nights away from home I called her multiple times A DAY. Sometimes crying, and sometimes just to say hello because I felt lonely. Now, after living in Italy almost 6 years, I still speak to her twice a week. Phone call dates are almost the same as a video call, as you can just set up your iPad to the side while you do something else. Of course, that kind of defeats the purpose if you’ve got your back turned to the camera, but you get my gist.
Are you also an expat, or a foreigner in a foreign land (I even include my home town residents who think driving over the bridge equates to Around the World in 80 Days – “We have to go into Westside? Hmmmm, well, can’t they come here? That’s a 15 minute drive!”)? I’d love to hear your ideas on keeping in touch. Let me know in the comments!