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?