Before the advent of modern technology, leaving home to live abroad was often a much more isolating experience than it is today. Sharing your impressions, triumphs, and setbacks as an expat with friends and family back home meant making pricy long-distance phone calls or writing long-hand letters which could take weeks to arrive to the intended recipient—if your correspondence reached them at all! Fortunately for the modern-day expat, the rise of smartphones has made it much easier to stay in touch with loved ones back home. Thanks to your Blackberry, Nokia or Lenovo mobile keeping in touch is a lot easier nowadays! Let’s take a look at how you can use your smartphone to enrich your life as an expat:
Arriving to a new city can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unfamiliar with the local language and culture or don’t have a good support system waiting to help you get settled. That being said, the ubiquity of apps available to smartphone users today does help to alleviate some of the burden. Apps like Google Maps and Foursquare help you to quickly get oriented in a new city and find the services you need, while XE Currency Converter, Lingolook Flashcards, and WeatherBug will help you with everything from learning the local language to deciding how to best dress for the weather. Trip planning apps like Expedia and Orbitz make it easier to book flights and hotels and to keep track of your travel information as well.
Free Voice and Video Call Services
In the not-so-distant past, expats had very few options for making calls to loved ones back home: they either had to rely on long-distance pay phones or buy expensive calling cards with preloaded minutes. These days, the ubiquity of instant messenger and VoIP and video call services makes international communication easier—and cheaper—then ever. Expats today can use their mobile phones to chat instantly with friends and family for free on their messenger service of choice—whether that be Skype, Viber, BBM, WhatsApp, Facebook Chat, Google Hangouts, etc. What’s even better is that these services are free for users, so you never have to worry about running up a high phone bill or running out of minutes. While services like Skype do charge a fee for expats who want to call or text directly to a landline or mobile phone, it’s relatively small when compared with the old methods of communication.
Blogging and Social Media Networks
Gone are the days of sending postcards and waiting until your next trip home to share your travel photos with family and friends. Thanks to the popularity of blogs and social media networks, friends and family members can keep up with your new life abroad on a daily basis. Blogging sites like WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr are free-of-charge and can be run from a traditional desktop or mobile device so that you can blog no matter where in the world you are. The same goes for social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram, which allow you to easily share status updates and photos with your friends to keep them in the loop about your life abroad.
Whether you’re looking to share your travel photos with loved ones or simply for the nearest ATM in your new city, mobile phones are an invaluable resource for the expat community. Take advantage of their range of services to enhance your life as an expat today!
Gloria Lorenzi is an aspiring journalist who graduated in Italy and is currently living and studying in the United Kingdom. She has a real flair for languages and a great passion for technology, and she tries to combine them in her articles.