Life as an expat has many challenges, thankfully staying in touch with family and friends is not one of them.
I cannot imagine what our expat lifestyle would have looked like just 20 years ago. Before social media, the Internet and smart phones. Staying in touch must have involved a lot more postcards and hand-written letters that would take weeks to arrive. All news from home would have been weeks or months old and photos rare. Long distance calls home few and quite expensive. Family events missed.
We learned the advantages of using a smartphone to be “present” at an event several years ago. Our daughter, Dallas, was returning from a years deployment in Afghanistan to Colorado Springs. We were there in person to welcome her home. Her sister, Danielle, was in the hospital with Princess Lily, and her new iPad. Alan contacted Danielle via FaceTime on his phone and through the magic of Apple, Danielle was able to sit in a hospital room in southern California and watch her sister arrive safely back home in Colorado. We recognized the advantage right away.
We have been in France for over 2 years and have not missed college graduations, holidays with family, or one-on-one chats with children or siblings. With our computers, phones, iPods, and a wifi connection we are able to visit family at the holidays, have a chat one-on-one with a sister, a daughter, or a friend. We watched via streaming video the graduations of four of the kids (Casey, his fiancee Megan, Adam, and his wife, Liz) from the University of Nevada, Reno over the last two years. At the holidays we FaceTime a family member and visit with everyone as they pass us around the room.
We haven’t missed a Superbowl. One of the BBC channels has aired the Superbowl live and we’ve been able to stay up late, very late, drink beer and cheer on our favorite team. It was always a big family event. We are thrilled to watch, even really early in the morning. With our laptops handy to keep up with chatter on Facebook, it’s almost like having a Superbowl party like we did before we moved.
Our son, Casey is getting married today. Though we will not be sitting in the audience, we will be able to witness this major life event. It’s a matter of learning to be “present” without being “there.” For today’s event it will be a Skype call through a smartphone.
It’s the little things like this that make life as an expat survivable for us. Our family is precious to us and being able to be present in the moment via social media, video chat or text messaging makes us feel like we are not so far from home. Events occur in real time and we are always available for family, friends, and assorted loved ones. Life is about not missing out on the moments that matter. Whether its a wedding, a graduation, a kid who misses us, or a sister who is having a bad day, we don’t miss out on too much. Hugs are tougher though . . . we miss those quite a bit.
We are so pleased to welcome our new daughter Megan, and new grand-daughter Izzy to the family!
Casey and Megan’s engagement photo shoot.