Easily the most challenging part of expat life for many is leaving behind family and friends, and finding the best ways to communicate with your loved ones and maintain important relationships. This also extends to your working networks – if you’re planning to return home, you will want to have kept up with key contacts in your industry.
Web and smartphone apps
Skype, Viber and Google Hangout are key ways to keep in touch. This will be mainly for your closest friends and family as it depends on time differences and availability of a strong internet connection. Skype now allows for video messages to be sent, while Google Hangout allows multiple participants
Social media updates
For your more general network of friends – people who you still have important ties with but whom you might not be able to devote time for a lengthy phone call – social media is the perfect means of keeping in touch, via updates or private messaging functions. You’re able to keep up with their movements and news in a more passive way, which is important as it allows you to feel you’re not totally cut off from your networks.
Make sure you continue to keep in touch with former colleagues and business contacts. LinkedIn, Twitter and occasional emails are the perfect way to do so: keep abreast of their career – congratulate them on new jobs, as questions about the industry back home and share insight into your new position overseas – it could be mutually beneficial to keep these channels open.
Another great way to keep those at home up-to-date is to keep a blog. This can be perfect for older members of the family who may not be avid Facebookers or might not have a fast enough internet connection for Skype. They will appreciate the long form writing, as well as photos and videos – all go towards a sense of connectedness.
Letters, postcards and greeting cards add the extra personal touch. It’s a special moment when someone back home gets something sent from your own hands. This is especially good for elderly family members who aren’t connected to the internet, as well as important birthdays and other remembrances – but you have to be organised: place a reminder in your calendar a few weeks early so it arrives on time.
Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health International – http://www.now-health.com/