Living abroad can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy to be on this crazy round-the-world adventure, and Kevin and I are having a blast together. However, because we’re travelling a lot, and because we’re both spending so much time working, it can be difficult to make close friends here. In that type of scenario, it’s been extremely wonderful and valuable for me to keep in touch with friends and family back in Canada. In some cases, I think I’m closer with some people in Canada now than I was when I actually lived in the same country as them.
So, how do I keep in touch? Thanks to modern technology, it’s not as tough as one might think. There are a variety of tools that I’m using, some more effective than others. Here’s a list and my thoughts on effectiveness:
- This is probably the tool I used most for communication, because I use it for work and personal communication. 90% of the calls I do with my RecruitLoop colleagues take place via Skype. Because I use it so often for work, I began using it for personal as well. Skype has a great instant message function, but is also the best tool I’ve used so far for face to face calls. Ususally once a week I’ll have a lengthy Skype call with a friend. The main issue with Skype is that it gets upset if there are any blips in internet connection, so it can freeze from time to time. Still, this is my overall go-to for calls.
- I only really discovered how this worked a few weeks ago, but it’s quickly taken up a big role in my overall communication strategy. iMessage allows me to text message any I know who has an iPhone, using either their phone number or their email address. On my Macbook, it just looks like an instant message program, but the message I’m sending arrive as a text message. This is the best because it’s an easy way to just have day-to-day conversations with friends.
- This is standard. Everyone uses email. The problem is that responses take time, particularly when there’s a lot of time between emails, because so much more time is needed to write updates.
- I pretty much only use this to call my parents on their iPads. It’s pretty good, though their internet isn’t amazing, and freezing or dropped can be frequent. But still, since it’s the visual lifeline to my parents, it’s important.
- As always, Facebook is a go-to timewaster. It’s my insight into the important news in Canada, and keeps me updated with what everyone is up to. It’s also a good way for people I’m not as close with to get in touch with me.
- This is used for work only, but since I use it daily, I figured it deserves a mention. HipChat is like iMessage or MSN messenger, but internal for companies only. It also has a very unique and cute and funny set of emoticons that can be added to messages. It’s a staple at startups.
- Google Hangouts
- Mostly used for work, for group meetings. I rarely understand how Google Hangouts work, so I’m loathe to expose my friends to this technology. Maybe one day in the future, if Skype fails me.
And of course, my blog! A great way of sharing the big updates and daily stories with everyone.
Am I missing a great tool? Suggest it in the comments!