How to Use Technology to our Advantage as an Expat

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So, there I was writing a super cool post at Starbucks on my IPad, and when I pressed save... it all went into space and disappeared into thin air.  Funny enough, the post was all about using technology while living abroad... go figure...


Today, technology is so amazing. Sometimes I wonder at it. How did we get here? A few years ago, I was writing letters to my friends back home. I remember these letters were so full of feelings, so palpable, many tears were shared, happy pictures...  And the excitement when coming back home from school (in Morgantown), checking the mailbox. Nowadays there are only bills. Yeap, no more letters from friends and family.

I do get to see them all the time on Instagram (no Facebook for me). We talk on whatsapp or Viper, I know "almost" everything that is happening in their lives, whether they're traveling or eating pizza. I was ever so grateful for whatsapp when my Paul and Victoria went to England this year. Although I was left behind because of work, I felt like I was part of their trip, because Paul was taking pictures and just sending them to me all the time. It was truly great.

Another great example on how technology can be helpful when you're traveling or moved away? Imagine this: Victoria was 3 months old when we moved to the UK, the move was crazy in itself, then I was in a different country with a newborn, no sleep and climbing the walls, I was so lonely. I talked to my parents everyday on Skype and since our house had 2 stories, with the family room upstairs and the kitchen, laundry, bedrooms downstairs, I "had to hire" a babysitter. My mum! Yeap, all the way from Brazil my mum would babysit Victoria via Skype. It was hilarious. If you're rolling your eyes, that's ok, I am not as perfect as you, and besides keeping my sanity, it gave me a great work out, climbing up and down the stairs everytime Victoria moved away from the camera and I'd hear my mum calling my name. I'm glad to say that no babies were hurt in the process, and I have a story to tell. Thanks to technology.

Now, because with technology, everything seems "easier", I've noticed that when people are away, especially for the first time, they are skipping the experience of being. I mean, to go out, fend for yourself and discover. They're still in touch with their family and friends in real time (or a few hours difference), and there is no urgency to get to know the other culture, make friends for life, and learn.

Imagine a student, now, going to college in Japan, let's say, versus a student 15yrs ago, also going to Japan. The latter would have a much more intense experience than the student heading to Japan in 2015. All things being equal, the student 15yrs ago, knew that if he didn't communicate with anyone in school, it'd be a very lonely year/2yrs, he'd have made friends for life. The 2015 student, would also have made friends, but the process would have been longer. The process of "letting go" to start a new life would have been different and yes, it would happen, but maybe without the same intensity.

All you need to have is balance. Just like I mentioned above, all of it is good, the time when we wrote letters to each other is over, and the time when we take our friends from back home "virtually" together on our trip is now. But at the end of the day, at night, you are still in a foreign country, learning a different language and trying to keep up with the cultural differences. It's all part of of the experience and expanding our minds. Enjoy the moments, they won't come back, soon enough you'll be back home with family and friends again.

You should control your technology and not let it control you.

I've mentioned through out the post the types of technology I use and here they are:

Hangout/Face time - video (on IPad and Galaxy)

Whatsapp/Viber - instant messaging/photo sharing (on Galaxy only)

Instagram - social media for photo sharing (on IPad and Galaxy)