We all know how it's done in the real world. You phone/text a friend, make a date and meet for coffee or lunch. You spend time chatting, laughing, solving problems and just enjoy hanging out together. Some friends you do this with often, while others might be a once a month/quarter/year event. Either way, you make time to catch up.
In the expat world it's a wee bit different. You email or message a friend (who is, more often than not in another time zone), and offer a few dates/times that suit you, having calculated the time difference and try to establish time for a Skype chat.
There's really no difference - or is there?????????????????
Dublin to Sydney at this time of year is 11 hour behind, which is super easy to coordinate. The months when it's a 9 hour difference is more difficult but can be done.
MissM and I often Skype mum or the in-laws on the way to school in the car from my mobile. It's around 7pm there, so perfect for a quick catchup while we sit in traffic. This time offers MissM a quick, short chat which suits her better these days (what's with kids who can talk your ear off in person but clam up over the phone?)
Earlier this week, my niece in Sydney texted 'are you up? Can we Skype?' It was pretty late for me, but when my niece calls, I answer! We chatted for a while, the line kept freezing and dropping out but we kept reconnecting. It was so lovely. She was lounging on her new bed, we caught on ballet news, school gossip, her latest project. We blew kisses to each other and after 40 minutes hung up.
A few nights ago MrsS whatsapp-ed 'I'll be home in 45 minutes. Is it too late to Skype? It was 8pm my time, so no, not too late at all. I popped the kettle on and we chatted til nearly midnight my time. I didn't care one bit. She has a lot of stuff going on and it was my pleasure to sit and listen and offer up my 2cents worth.
MrsW's in the UK, we have a coffee'n'Skype date for Friday morning. We've blocked out a couple of hours and will sit'n'chat while sipping coffee, thousands of miles apart but in real time chatting and laughing. The only thing missing is the hug hello, so we just smile and wave - a lot.
A friend living in Japan said her grandchild living in New Zealand took a few hours to warm to her and her husband on a trip home. He was maybe 2 years old and kept looking at the computer screen. They worked out that he was possibly confused by seeing all of them and not just their heads on the computer screen - OMG These people are real!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Over the past nine years we've shared Christmas morning and birthday's via Skype with family which fills a void; MissM will regularly show her grandparents artwork or her latest ballet routine on our weekend catchups (which don't happen every weekend by the way but often enough), we'll show off the garden, or a new haircut. We're all in the same room, talking, sharing and that's what counts.
Some friends have very busy lifestyles and with time zones adding to that, it's easier to whatsapp chat. While you might miss their voice, or seeing their face, it's still in real time and that's what counts.
We haven't had a landline for nearly 10 years relying only on Skype (we have a local Sydney number that hardly anyone bothers using), and our mobiles. MissM loves going to her grandparents in Sydney and seeing the TELEPHONE. Imagine her expression when she was an old fashioned phone with the dial and cord attached to the wall. More and more people are ditching their landlines, don't you think?
People must think we live in our pjs and I never wear makeup because we so often Skype in pj's, with no make up on, or with a pretty top on and pj bottoms. It has everything to do with time zones, and nothing to do with lack of personal care. I'm very well dressed, with makeup and hair done for this mornings Skype catch-up.
I used to think wow, all I've done all day is sit and chat on Skype, but then I think about the days when I'm out'n'about with friends catching up, enjoying each others company, and figure what's the difference?
Chatting with friends is SO IMPORTANT, especially when you don't live close by to take advantage of it.
Keeping in touch counts for so much, especially when you are living so far apart.
So, who you going to call?
Landline? Skype? Whatsapp?
How do you manage Keeping In Touch?