Thursday, January 27, 2011

Being a 21st Century Expat

This morning I talked with my mom on our Vonage line.  All day This afternoon I browsed Facebook, catching up on my friend's latest status posts. Earlier this evening, I watched my US television shows online. And tonight I sat on my laptop Skyping with my husband, who is on a business trip in China, while chatting on Yahoo Messenger with my friend back in Ohio. To those who were expats before all this technology, YOU ARE MY HERO!

I honestly cannot imagine being an expat when all you had were snail mail and very expensive phone calls. So much has changed over the past 20, 10 and even 5 years.  Do you remember what life was like before things like email, digital photos, VoIP phones, Skype, My Space (does anyone use My Space anymore?)  and Facebook? Now imagine that life being thousands of miles away from everything you know, in a place where you cannot speak the same language, remember which side of the road to drive on, or even figure out what milk to buy.

Then there are things like SlingBox, iTunes, and online video streaming. I know there are expats living in rural parts of the world or places where some of these items are forbidden, but for many of us, these technologies make life so much easier.  Just imagine how grumpy I would be if I couldn't watch all the same junk TV that I watched back in the United States. (However if you knew the television programming I watched, that may not be such a bad thing.)

One of the hardest things about being overseas is missing family and friends. One can adapt to the food, language, landscape, and culture but there is no substitute for our loved ones. But with all the technology today, the distance doesn't always seem so far apart.


Susan said...

Amen!! And there are ways for some of us to get around the banned items like Skype (oh my Skype is so bad they make it illegal!) that makes that technology even better.

Maureen said...

At age 18, my mom married my dad (who was in the Army) and moved to France, where he was stationed. In the 3 years that they were there, she spoke to her mom once. Overseas phone calls were prohibitively expensive and had to be arranged 2 weeks in advance. She said that, while she loved living in France, not being able to speak to her mom was absolutely the hardest thing she had to deal with while there. Technology is truly a fabulous thing.

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