Moving overseas offers a wealth of positive new experiences and challenges. However, it can also be an extremely stressful time, especially in the first few months while you’re trying to find your feet in your new home abroad - but never forget, it is also an extremely rewarding experience.
After all, you’ll be discovering new life experiences, meeting new people and seeing how the day-to-day routine operates in other cultures.
But at times, living overseas can be very daunting and you might need to hear a bit of reassurance from home. Whatever the reasons, keeping in touch with home can be more important and comforting than you currently realise, so let us take a look at the best and most used communication options for expats.
Do you remember the old BT commercial when the neighbour was “calling Sydney”, “Sydney who?”, “Sydney Australia!” – well, using your landline to call home is one option, though an expensive one in our opinion! Landline calls can be made from pretty much anywhere to anywhere, but per minute costs can be prohibitive and certainly will limit the amount of contact with your family.
One way around this is to buy international phone cards, these cards normally work on the premise that the company provides a local number or free number to call and then they redirect your call overseas. Simple to use, the cards can be bought over the Internet or from local shops. They are one alternative in the arsenal of expat communication options.
There are a number of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) or Internet based telephone systems also available that offer cheap or free calls. Perhaps the most popular communication option for expats living overseas is Skype. The Skype system is free to download onto your computer, and if your family and friends back home do the same, Skype to Skype calls are free. Skype calls offer the advantage of being able to video call your folks back home so they can all see just how tanned and relaxed you are looking, and you can see how cold and dull it is back there – reminding you that living overseas does have some advantages even on days when you’re feeling overwhelmed!
You can also buy credit through Skype to call normal telephones and mobile phones at cheap rates.
The Vonage system is also a good communication tool for expats. With this system you use your existing telephone with a Vonage converter that places the calls over the Internet. The system works with monthly billing and offers calls at reduced rates.
Other communication options for expats living overseas are websites such as Facebook - or you can even try setting up your own blog or family website. These forms of contact allow you to do things like post photos of you and your family enjoying your new life abroad, and you can get your family back home to post photos of them in the rain!
And don’t forget the good old email. The new form of almost snail mail when compared to VOIP calls and instant messaging, it still allows you to send and receive news to and from home. Providers such as MSN, Google and Yahoo offer communication services for expats and also have chat options to allow you to keep in touch in real time.
Instant messaging is the term used to describe services like Google chat, Yahoo chat and MSN messenger. They are basically real time, text based chats between 2 or more people. Usually they have features such as webcam so you can see who you’re talking to, and these services also allow you to transfer files.
Failing that, if Granny really is stuck in the Hebrides without an Internet connection, telephone line or Morse code receiver…. you could always write to her in the traditional way…a letter will get there eventually!