When given the choice to move abroad, one of the first things we often ask ourselves is “What about my family?” For many of us, family is one of our top priorities in life. Especially when they begin to extend and there are engagements, weddings, pregnancies, and unfortunately sometimes funerals too.
We often feel as though something has to give, as though we have to sacrifice our family in order to live abroad. But moving abroad doesn’t mean giving up your family. It does mean that things will change, but there doesn’t actually have to be an ‘either or’.
How to keep in touch
What I’ve learnt is that it’s the approach we choose when it comes to staying in contact with family that is most important, because these relationships will only fade if we let them.
I literally call my mum every morning on the way to work. And if I don’t, it’s usually because I am talking to my sister instead 🙂 Sometimes the calls last for half an hour, sometimes they only last for ten minutes, but it’s the regular contact that makes a difference and tends to reduce that feeling of distance.
Recognising the best way to stay in touch with different family members is also important. For example, I Whatsapp my cousins all the time, but my grandma prefers me to call her, and I send my grandparents post cards and letters, as I know they like the surprise 🙂 FaceTime is also really good because being able to see each other can make a huge difference, especially with children.
I don’t feel that these phone calls and letters necessarily replace being in each others’ physical company, but in a world where it is becoming ever-more common to move abroad or away from our families, we need to make the best of every situation.
The time difference
I am also fortunate enough to be able to visit home at short notice, if needs be, but I did once speak to a friend who moved to the other side of the world about this. The ten-hour time difference doesn’t allow for regular phone calls and visits but it is possible to schedule weekly phone calls and send regular photos and videos so that our family can know what we’re up to, and vice versa. Again, rather than seeing moving abroad as choosing to leave, we can also see it as choosing to keep in touch.
I’ve also found that I cherish the time spent together more than ever before, as the visits can sometimes be few and far between. But what I really enjoy is that when we meet up, we now spend days on end together, rather than a few hours here and there. It’s like constant family holidays!
In an ideal world, I would love to have all of my family living with me in Frankfurt, but unfortunately life just isn’t that simple. And what I do know, is that if I had chosen to stay at home in London, I’d still be wondering what life would have been like if I’d decided not to follow my dreams.