A Guide to Managing Relationships With Friends and Family When You’re Overseas.
As video calls, social media and messaging services become simpler and cheaper to use, it has never been easier to keep in touch overseas. While this has undoubtedly made moving abroad easier, managing contact with loved ones at home is now rather more complicated than simply picking up the phone. There is an overwhelming array of communication apps and software as well as time differences and work schedules to contend with. Get it right, however, and you can maintain rewarding, meaningful relationships with friends and family at home whilst building a close social circle in your new location overseas. Make sure to read our top tips for keeping in touch when moving abroad before you leave.
Do Your Homework
Before you’ve even packed your bags, get online or on the phone and research broadband speeds, mobile phone networks and, of course, the all-important costs. If you take a bit of time to look into these ahead of your move, not only will you get the best packages for your needs at the best price, you will also have more time to unpack and explore when you reach your destination.
Be a Savvy Shopper
If you already have a smartphone, it will almost certainly work abroad, but you will probably need a new international sim card and contract to avoid extortionate roaming charges. While researching and booking what you can before the move has obvious advantages, it may be worth waiting until you are overseas to purchase an international mobile phone contract and sim card. You can buy them in the UK, however, you will most likely find they are cheaper at your destination.
While you will probably want a mobile phone contract that combines call time, text messages and data allowance, the most generous plans, particularly those with high data allowances can be pricey. Switching mobile data off while you are out and about and using Wi-Fi whenever you can will reduce your usage and avoid additional costs. You can, in fact, use many of your phone’s applications offline and, by composing emails and editing photos offline and preloading maps before you set off on a journey, you can avoid using up your data.
Pick Up the Phone
With messaging services, emails, blogs and social media to keep you busy, it is easy to forget the importance of hearing someone’s voice. Taking the time to make a call to close friends and family is key to maintaining the relationship and staying in touch. Even if you didn’t spend too much time chatting on the phone before your move, when you are no longer able to meet face to face as often as you would like, a phone call can be the next best thing. A ‘lol’ or emoji is no substitute for actually hearing your loved one giggle.
Have a Schedule
When you arrive in your new home overseas, it is easy to get lost in a blur of unpacking, paperwork and new faces. You probably also have a brand new job to get your teeth into, so you’d be forgiven for forgetting to email your old colleagues or phone your family to let them know how you are settling in. While it may seem rather formal and officious, arranging a schedule for phone and video calls can save arguments and tension in the long run. Of course, nothing has to be set in stone, but agreeing to Skype your parents each Sunday or call your best friend each Friday can help you and your friends and family stay connected with what is going on at home and abroad. A schedule will also help avoid time zone and work pattern clashes when trying to get in touch.
Use Wi-Fi Wisely
While you may want to avoid using the web on your phone when out and about, when you have access to Wi-Fi at home or in an office or cafe, it is well worth taking full advantage. As well as checking emails and social media, you can use Wi-Fi to make phone and video calls as well sending messages. For calling home, Skype and Viber are the most well known apps and allow both voice and video calls without incurring charges or using up your minutes. For messaging, WhatsApp remains ever popular and is a quick and simple way to share messages, photos and videos, you can even set up groups to keep family and friends all updated.
Of course, when you arrive you may not have your home internet Wi-Fi up and running and you may be reliant on public networks in internet cafes and coffee bars. These are undoubtedly a godsend, but you may need to take extra precautions. Avoid communicating personal details and passwords and avoid using internet banking on public connections, if you can.
Missing birthdays and other celebrations can be one of the hardest parts of moving overseas. While you may not be able to get there in person, of course you’ll probably still want to send cards and presents home quite regularly. Rather than buying gifts at your destination and paying international postage costs, buying online and having the item delivered directly to the recipient can save you time and money. Many retailers offer a gift postage services and even free international delivery. For cards, using one of many websites such as Moonpig.com and funkypigeon.com that allow you to create, personalize and send cards across the world can also save you postage.
Blog About It
Another easy way of sharing you experiences and adventures overseas with friends and family at home is to start a blog. Setting up a blog is reasonably simple and there are many guides and tutorials that will take you through getting up and running, then you can get busy recording your new life abroad in words, pictures and videos. Not only will these keep the folks back home up to date, it is also a great way of recording your exciting first few weeks, months or years abroad.
Use Social Media Strategically
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all revolutionised how we keep in touch and made the world seem smaller for millions of users. A quick glance can show you what your friends are doing, where they’ve been and how they are. However, spending hours scrolling through pictures, posts and updates from home can lead to homesickness and can stop you settling into your new life. An all out ban may be a little extreme, but it is wise to limit social media time if you feel it is upsetting you or stopping you embracing new opportunities at your destination.
Go Retro – Try Snail Mail
Emails, messages, phone calls and updates are perfect for quick, day-to-day communication, but there is nothing like a handwritten letter to remind a loved one that they are still in your thoughts. Taking the time to pen a letter home will not only put a smile on the recipient’s face, but is also a great way to slow down and take stock of the changes in your life following your move.
Your friends and family back at home will, of course, remain an important part of your life and with these simple tips you will keep in touch and maintain a strong relationship. It is worth remembering that it is also vital to dedicate time to meeting people and making friends at your destination. Your ties to your home country will always be there, but it is important to immerse yourself in your new life and embrace every opportunity, even if that means putting the phone away for a few hours.