Technology to the Expat Rescue
Moving to another country presents the tremendous challenge of not living close to friends and family. Although some people move with family and friends, many of us have the arduous task of saying goodbye for now. Luckily, we live in the year 2021 and it is easy to stay in touch via technology.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought strenuous times for everyone, but there is at least one benefit that has come out of it: the stay-home restrictions resulted in almost everything that one couldn’t get online now being offered on the net.
Not only do we have books, music, movies, and games on our phones, we also can take almost any class online, order groceries, attend full training programs and seminars via video conferencing.
The Zoom platform is the new place for meetings, celebrations, and happy hours around the globe. The possibilities are limitless, and for expats, that means: No Excuses! There are so many ways to stay in touch these days, so let’s get creative.
Many expats move back to their home country after a short time because they miss their family so dearly and can’t stand to be so far away. That’s why it is important to have a plan for how you are going to stay in touch.
Technology to the Rescue
These days, there are many phone apps you can use to stay connected. Expats are using platforms, such as WhatsApp, Marco Polo, Facebook, Google Hangouts/Meet, Zoom, and more. However, it’s not always enough to download the apps. Creating a plan with family and friends will help to hold everyone accountable.
Forget Me Not, Expat! You’ve Got Technology
Such a plan could be as simple as: “We will video call on WhatsApp every Sunday at 1 pm EST” (don’t forget to factor in any time zone differences).
I found this to be easy enough with very close family and friends, but with those loved ones who can be a little more difficult to get on the phone, try more unconventional approaches.
For example, my best girlfriends from high school started a book club.
Most of us don’t live anywhere near our hometown anymore, so we use Google Meet to video chat every Thursday evening.
Sometimes, not everyone can make it, but we know someone will be on to talk about the latest chapter in the book or just to check in with each other.
I know… a book club isn’t everyone’s jam, but maybe you have a friend who loves to cook, so you start a bi-weekly recipe exchange using technology?
Maybe your Grandpa is a huge Greenbay Packers fan, so you agree to watch the first half of every game together using Zoom, and you do the same with your mom during Red Carpet and Award shows.
Young grandchildren can safely use the app Duolingo on their tablets to call grandparents whenever they want.
You can even feel closer to your loved ones by playing games together through apps like Words with Friends, Uno, or Cards against Humanity. You can even attend a class together, whether it be a yoga class or a professional development workshop.
Keep an eye out for all the online classes; many are being offered for free during the pandemic to encourage people to stay home.
When nothing else seems to work, a group happy hour is a fail-safe plan with my family and friends. I love to video call with a large group, so I get to check in with many loved ones at once, and I’m not spending hours upon hours making individual phone calls and sending countless text messages.
How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Let me know in the comments below.
by: Megan Thompson