Say hello to grandma: How do you keep in touch in relocation?

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The decision to move abroad is not an easy one to make, especially if you have had to leave family and friends behind. One of the greatest challenges in relocation is keeping in touch with our loved ones, who sometimes can be living in a completely different time-zone. Moreover, establishing a new network of friends may take a period of time, making keeping in touch with those who stayed behind even more crucial for mental support and to tackle any loneliness that may arise.

Due to the raging global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, you might find yourself in need of support from your closest friends and family who retreated to their homes on the other side of the world. While sport events have been cancelled, media productions halted and other cultural events postponed indefinitely, the uncertainty surrounding humanity is reaching its pick, putting a strain on our mental health. The good news is that no matter where you have moved to, technology is on your side to help you keep in touch with your loved ones – whether they are your parents, your children’s friends or yours.

So here are some useful tips to help you keep in touch – both in good and bad times:

Skype

How does it work?

Owned by Microsoft, Skype is the oldest most known app for video calls in the market. You can use it both on your smartphone and on your personal laptop. To do that, you will need to open an account, and you can only call other people who also have an account and a username.

What can you use it for?

Video calls are a great way to keep in touch, as they offer a chance to really engage with your friends and family and see their faces, although you can also use it like any other instant messaging platform. A unique feature skype offers is calls – if you are in need of calling someone’s phone or landline, you can top-up your account and use it as a phone – even if you are calling from the other side of the world – for very cheap.

Use it like a pro

While the desktop version of Skype is not the most stable option in the market, the mobile version does work well and supports big groups chats (up to 50 people) with a generous time limit – four hours per call, 100 hours per months, free of charge. You can also use the web version, which doesn’t require downloading the software to the computer.

Zoom

How does it work?

Zoom, a free HD cloud-based video conferencing service, is one of the most popular options out there at the moment, both for businesses and for individuals. Its free versions allows for multiple participants, up to 100, with a time limit of 40 minutes per conversation.

What can you use it for?

Zoom has become a cultural phenomenon, and people are now using it not only for remote teaching – but also for joint study sessions, virtual dinner parties and online book clubs. So you can lay back on your sofa, drink a glass of wine and spend a literal happy hour with your friends on the other side of the world.

Use it like a pro

Some nice features Zoom has include a ‘green screen’ option to hide your messy flat, ‘make up’ add-on and a recording option so you can save and listen to the conversation later. You can also share your screen with other participants.

WhatsApp

How does it work?

One of the most popular instant messaging application in the world, owned by Facebook. WhatsApp, which uses your phone number, can be used for both group messaging and talking to individuals. It also has a video chat platform on which you can speak to up to four other people.

What can you use it for?

WhatsApp offers a good solution for the everyday, ongoing communication with your loved ones. Because it uses your mobile data or your home’s Wi-Fi, it is completely free and you can use it wherever, whenever you want. It is therefore can be used to open a group chat with your family, where you can share pictures, videos and stories about your life abroad to keep everyone in your life updated and informed continuously.

One of WhatsApp’s advantages is that you can easily set up different group chats and search for old messages and contacts.

Use it like a pro

In terms of privacy, it is recommended to go to settings and disable the ‘last seen’ and ‘read receipts’, which means that people would not be able to see when you were last online and if you have read their message. You can also add a two-steps verification which will lock the app, to prevent other people from looking at your chats.

Setting up a personal blog

How does it work?

There are several options that are free of charge and easy to use. Two of the most popular are the Wix and WordPress platforms, which are very intuitive to work with. You will need to set up an account using your email address, and choose from a variety of templates for a final touch. 

What can you use it for?

You can share stories and embed pictures to your personal blog. That way, you could post on your own time, at any time, and still have the people you care about aware of what is going on in your life. This option could work exceptionally well for people who travel a lot and enjoy writing.  

Use it like a pro

Send the link to your blog to your friends or come up with a mailing list, so when you post something, your loved ones will be notified about it automatically. Some of the blogging platforms offer an easy button for joining the mailing list, so you don’t have to do anything other than send the link to your blog to your different circles and ask them to fill in their email address.   

The Dillard Family Blog (print screen)
The Dillard Family Blog (print screen)

Facebook messenger

How does it work?

A popular app, which works well with all kinds of platforms and software is Facebook messenger. You can use it on your phone even if you don’t have the Facebook app or even a Facebook account. You only need to download it to your computer or phone via your app store, fill in your name and your phone number and that’s it. You can also access it from your Facebook account easily both from your computer and mobile phone.

What can you use it for?

Facebook messenger is well-suited for different kinds of virtual communication with your friends and family. It supports group chats of up to 250 participants, and audio or video calls of up to 50 members – with no duration limit. You can also use it to record messages of up to one minute, send pictures, share documents and even create group polls.

Use it like a pro

If you prefer to only receive the messages when you log-in the app, you can turn off the notifications for a conversation for any duration of time – from 15 minutes to until you choose to turn them back on. You can also send money on the app, and you can easily sync your phone’s contacts with the app, to save you the trouble of looking up the people yourself.

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