Thursday, March 17, 2011

Communicating with friends and family while overseas

"How do I communicate? With Beepers! Beepers!"

Ok, so I'm dating myself here...but my husband (who seems to have a little rap diddy for any subject that comes up in our household) often sings this little tune from Sir Mix-a-Lot - yes, it's from the late 80s...

Anyway, with all the talk these days about the horrible disaster in Japan it's made me think about how fortunate we all are to have such a wide variety of sophisticated ways to communicate with loved ones who find themselves living around the world. I hear over and over how Canadians are using facebook to keep in touch with loved ones who are in Japan, particularly when cell phone technology has failed in regions devastated by the tsunami.

How lucky we who travel overseas today are!

I remember when I was a teacher in Bulgaria in 1994 - 1996, I lived in a really comfortable two-bedroom apartment that was equipped with all the modern conveniences of the day - oven, indoor plumbing...I think that was it. I didn't have a phone in my apartment (or a washing machine or a reliable heater for that matter!) and email didn't even exist.

I think back to those days when I used to huddle in my kitchen with the oven on high, door open, and at my side, a cheap bottle of Bulgarian wine and a box of stationery upon which to write my friends, boyfriend (who is, by the way, the aforementioned husband) and family back home. Ahhh...those were the days! I used to wait anxiously every day for a letter to arrive in my mailbox. I still remember the feel of that little wooden hole of my mailbox against my finger as I anxiously checked the contents each day after returning home from a long teaching day.

Oh how happy I would be to get a letter - any letter - from back home. My most reliable letter writers were my boyfriend (who wrote at least once a week - who says long distance relationships do not work??), my grandmother and my great aunt Mildred.

I actually still enjoy writing letters to friends and love sending handmade birthday and holiday cards. As each year progresses, however, I find the act of letter writing more time-consuming, though, and the rewards of receiving something in return are getting less frequent, but I persist.

Old habits die hard.

Recently, though, I had the opportunity to discover the power and wonder of Skype when my husband, myself and our two kids (then aged 3 months and 3.5 years) moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 3 months. Skype was a godsend! I couldn't imagine being in KL without my family and friends back home being able to see the growth of our kids and connect with them in that way.

I'm curious to know from all of you living in London:

How do you communicate with loved ones back in Canada? Any old school letter writers out there or is technology the only way to go?

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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Canadians & Americans in the UK blog


  1. Email DID exist in 94-96. I used it. But very few other people did.

    I've never really been one for writing old school letters. Technology is definitely the way to go for me. I keep in touch with family and friends via Facebook, GTalk, Skype, and phone. Sometimes email. But even email is too slow these days.

  2. I remember writing and receiving letters when I volunteered in Costa Rica & Guatemala, way back in 1994-1996. It was so exciting to receive mail! And the thought that went into the actual writing - it was so much more reflective. I'd sit in my favourite tree for hours writing those letters back home.

    Fast forward 10 years, and I'm with Bryn on this one. Email does seem too slow at times! Facebook, twitter, skype, msn...and more often than not - the good ol' telephone! London taught me to text, which my friends in Canada were a bit slow to catch on to - they're now all over texting which I love.

    I miss letter writing, but I guess it's like missing vinyl records. Some people hang on and keep their box of records, and some of us look back fondly while running in the direction of MP3s.

  3. OK, you're right. Email did exist in 1994, but not in Bulgaria! :) What, by the way, is GTalk?


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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