Friday, February 10, 2012

Could You Survive Abroad Without the Internet?

by Expat Focus columnist Piglet in Portugal

As more people either work or retire abroad I often wonder how expats managed to survive in a pre-internet world. How did they communicate with family and friends back home, or research different aspects of life in their new country?

I can’t even begin to imagine life abroad without the internet. Can you imagine being totally reliant on the long drawn out process of sending letters by snail-mail when you can now send emails in seconds? Or the cost of using a standard telephone when you can use VoIP (Skype) or even better two-way interactive video calls for free?

How did expats research different countries, the culture and the lifestyle? How did they interact with other expats prior to their move? Just asking myself these couple of simple questions made me realize the massive impact the internet has had on our daily lives. I know it makes me feel less isolated.

When you take a few moments to reflect how communicating via the internet has evolved over the last few years, the options are amazing!

My personal favorites are:

Emails are great –instant (well almost) and so simple. I love to receive daily emails with photographs of our grandchildren, family updates or even emails from friends, just to say “Hi!” or “Shall we meet up?” Can you imagine the lengthy process if all this was sent by snail-mail?

I love VoIP! Whoever, invented, created or discovered this nifty application is a genius!
Where would expats be without it? I currently use Skype because calls to other Skype users are free. I also love the instant message option – Why? It’s quick and uncomplicated!

Video calls
This is by far my favorite method of communicating with our family. I can check out our grandchild’s new tooth, new dress, a web-tour round a newly decorated room, a Christmas day chat; our family is right there in our living room, although they are thousands of miles away. I wonder how many children grow up thinking their grandparents live in the computer!

My friend’s daughter lives in Australia so visits are limited. I know she would be devastated without the use of video-calls to stay in contact with her daughter and little granddaughter.

Article continues here

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