Gearing up for a semester abroad? Got a new job offer – across the world? Boarding the plane for a few weeks’ vacation? In today’s global village, staying in touch with friends and family back home when you’re away is easier than ever.
I recently spent almost a year overseas, and I was able to keep my relationships with my friends and loved ones back in the States as strong as ever. True, it takes a little more effort to stay in touch when you’re far away, but if you keep a few tips in mind, you won’t even notice the miles. Here are a few things I did to shrink the distance:
Study Your Math
Even if you’re only one state away, there is probably going to be a time difference between you and your family and friends. Get familiar with the time difference, especially if it is a big one. I spent about a year with a 12 ½ hour difference between myself and my friends and family. At first it was hard to calculate, but after a while it became second nature. Knowing what time it is where your loved ones are makes it easier to find times to talk with them. Plus, it improves your math skills!
Get the App
There are so many apps out there these days that make staying in touch a cinch. Apps like Viber and Whats App let you text and call your friends from anywhere in the world. All you need is a wifi connection. Skype is also a great way to make video calls from your computer. I was able to have coffee with my mother from all the way across the world, via Skype. The best thing about all of these programs? They’re free!
When dealing with time differences on top of different daily schedules, it can be hard to spontaneously find times to talk with friends and family. Plan your talk time a day or two in advance so that both parties can be sure they have enough free time for a good conversation.
When you’re talking, remember to share the small things. Ask what your friend did today, tell your cousin about a cool local spot you found, listen to your mother’s updates about her garden. Sharing these small details of your lives makes it feel like instead of being miles apart, you are sitting on the couch together and chatting.
Remember Important Days
Yes, wherever you are, you’re probably having many exciting new experiences. But if you want to keep your ties with friends and family at home strong, you should be sure to remember days that are important for them, like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, graduations, and weddings. A good way to make the day memorable for friends and family even when you’re far away is by sending something special. A card or postcard is fun to send on just any old day, but for a big day you should try to send something more. Sites like GourmetGiftBaskets.com have a wide variety of gifts for all occasions that you can send to friends and family at home. This way you can send a present with a personal touch, even from across the world. Using a coupon to send a gift makes it easier to stick to your travel budget, too.
Live the Moment
Maybe you’re on a business trip, study abroad, working as an au pair, going off to college, starting a new job – whatever you’re doing, this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make the most of it! Try not to spend your time thinking about how much you miss everyone back home. Instead go out, try new things, and make new friends wherever you are. Not only will you have an amazing time, you’ll also have more to tell your friends and family when you do get a chance to talk.