As more people either work or retire abroad I often wonder how expats managed to survive in a pre-internet world. How did they communicate with family and friends back home, or research different aspects of life in their new country?
I can’t even begin to imagine life abroad without the internet. Can you imagine being totally reliant on the long drawn out process of sending letters by snail-mail when you can now send emails in seconds? Or the cost of using a standard telephone when you can use VoIP (Skype) or even better two-way interactive video calls for free?
How did expats research different countries, the culture and the lifestyle? How did they interact with other expats prior to their move? Just asking myself these couple of simple questions made me realize the massive impact the internet has had on our daily lives. I know it makes me feel less isolated.When you take a few moments to reflect how communicating via the internet has evolved over the last few years, the options are amazing!
My personal favorites are:
Emails are great –instant (well almost) and so simple. I love to receive daily emails with photographs of our grandchildren, family updates or even emails from friends, just to say “Hi!” or “Shall we meet up?” Can you imagine the lengthy process if all this was sent by snail-mail?
I love VoIP! Whoever, invented, created or discovered this nifty application is a genius!
Where would expats be without it? I currently use Skype because calls to other Skype users are free. I also love the instant message option – Why? It’s quick and uncomplicated!
This is by far my favorite method of communicating with our family. I can check out our grandchild’s new tooth, new dress, a web-tour round a newly decorated room, a Christmas day chat; our family is right there in our living room, although they are thousands of miles away. I wonder how many children grow up thinking their grandparents live in the computer!
My friend’s daughter lives in Australia so visits are limited. I know she would be devastated without the use of video-calls to stay in contact with her daughter and little granddaughter.
Many expats I know use Facebook to interact with family and friends. Personally, I’m a bit of a cautious dinosaur and can’t understand the fascination in posting so much personal information – where does it go, and is all this personal data really secure? However, I do find it highly amusing to see some of the photos our sons post to Facebook and then the comments which follow. “Mother” would not normally be privy to such personal information. I think they have forgotten I am a “friend”
Forums are not only a great place to ask questions and share information but to meet new people. I met most of my friends via forums such as the Portugal forum at Expat Focus
However, the one piece of modern technology which is of no interest to me is an electronic book reader such as the Kindle. If you live abroad, especially where English is not the first language, I’m told this is a great way to buy books. No delivery, just download straight to your e-reader. I can understand their growing popularity, but as the resident dinosaur and despite valiant attempts by friends and family to convert me I still prefer the “feel” of a book. What about you?
The only downside of all this amazing technology is our reliance on the internet. How many times have you shouted at your computer screen when you realized you’ve lost connection in the middle of a telephone or video call or sending an email? In our little corner of Portugal the internet drops at least a couple of times a week, and it’s driving me crazy! How strange the computer has become our life-line.
The World at our fingertips!
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