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I decided to push back the post I had planned for Part 2 of this series to next week because I got quite a bit of feedback on last week’s post, Ex Pat Life Series Part 1:Why don’t people reach out to me?, and felt like I should respond.
I want to clarify that my post was not a cry for help, a vent of feeling sorry for myself, or meant to be a whining diatribe.
No Apologies if it came across that way! It was simply a response to some of the conversations I’ve been having with a few other ex-pats here in China and some reflections on my own experience. I do occasionally reflect upon such things although I may seem like a superficial So-Calian (Word made up. So-Calians do not call themselves So-Calians. Also, how can you tell if someone is truly from Southern California? Their non-use of the word “Cali”. Boom!).
As several people pointed out, that post could have applied not only to people living abroad but also to anyone who has moved any sort of distance, from down the street, to an hour away, to across the country. If you’ve moved you probably can identify with the feelings of losing touch with people back home and how great it feels when someone from home initiates keeping a connection with you.
I also want to clarify that in no way does all the responsibility for keeping in touch fall upon people back home. Its your responsibility too. As we all know, life just gets in the way of this at times. But if its a priority to you, putting in a little effort is sometimes all it takes. Since I grew up overseas and have had the opportunity to travel, I have friends living all over the world. I don’t keep in close touch with all of them, and I used to be much better at it than I am now (2 babies and all). But I do try to keep in touch with some or connect with others when I’m in their area of the world.
So how do you do it?
1) Facebook, obviously – The number one way of keeping in touch is by posting fun status updates and pictures of your adventures. Not too much, mind you, just enough to get people to ask you for more information! For example, “What do a stop light, a taxi, and a crosswalk have in common? Not enough apparently (true story).” is a status update sure to get people asking to know more and sympathizing with your plight to cross the street in safety or laughing at your hilarious story!
2) Email updates – Be sure to include every possible way under the sun to get in contact with you (mailing addy, email, local cell, Skype number, Viber, WeChat, WhatsUp, Instagram…) so as to give them the hint you’d love to stay in touch. Although most people won’t respond to a mass update letter, you’re sure to get a few return emails, and people appreciate hearing from you and having your new contact info. When they comment on your hilarious status update they’ll say something like, “OMG are you okay??? I loved your email update! btw how do I contact you again?”
3) Viber/WeChat/Whatsapp – Seriously THE easiest way for keeping in touch ever. I’m for sure going to use WeChat forever! People in China are crazy about it, everyone (restaurants, doctor’s offices) have a WeChat account so you can send them a quick text or voice message.
4) Actually use email/texting/instagram/whatever to initiate contact – If you’re a social butterfly but just can’t keep in touch with everyone, choose a few people that you really want to maintain a friendship with, and initiate contact. Everyone likes it when someone reaches out them. So be that person. And get back to them when they follow up with you (I know, I know, I’m THE WORST at this right now! My email turn around time is about a month at the moment. But I’m working on it!).
That’s it. So simple right? If only I had the luxury of time and energy, I could keep in touch with everyone I’ve ever met. Instead I think I’ll order take out during nap time and catch up with my shows on Hulu.
Tune in next week for the Ex Pat Life Series Part 3: Being a person of Welcome wherever you are.
How do you keep in touch with friends near and far?