When I last went back to London (home-home), I realised I wasn’t checking my phone half as much as I do when I’m at my home abroad. The reason is obvious: I have 25 years of solid friendships to maintain in the UK compared to 18 months of developing friendships in Frankfurt.
I am lucky there’s only a one hour time difference between London and Frankfurt, making it easy to keep in touch with friends and family, so I make the most of this.
It does usually mean that I have notification after notification popping up on my phone, but to be honest that’s not much different to before I moved abroad anyway. The biggest change is that these messages and phone calls have now become the foundation of my friendships with people who I no longer live in the same country as.
Before moving abroad I would regularly meet up with friends from school, uni, previous jobs and other walks of life, but it’s not like that anymore. It’s no longer “Oh, I will see them tomorrow anyway, so instead of texting about what happened, I will just tell them tomorrow.” Truth is, we don’t know when we’ll next see each other, so that message that would be way easier to say in person because you can’t be bothered to send a long text, means much more than it ever did before.
No longer physically meeting up with friends can be shitty, but it’s even worse after a misunderstanding. I find these things sit me with a lot longer than they ever would have before, as we don’t just meet up the next week and then everything is back to normal. It’s just a short (or very long) ‘sorry’ text and then we are back to our ‘phone friendship’. Meh!
I do try to see my friends from home as much as possible (at most 3 times a year). But annual leave is of course limited and has become way more precious than it ever was before: Save enough days for Christmas, save enough days for visitors, save enough days for your own actual holidays and leave a few days just in case something happens and you need to go home last minute. Time management is key. Not only when you’re abroad, but also when you come home because you want to see as many people as possible and let’s face it, there’s never that much time.
It’s definitely something that you learn to get used to and although I sometimes just put my phone down so I can get on with what I need to be doing, I’m happy to spend the extra few minutes on my phone to keep in touch with loved ones.