One of the obvious challenges of moving to another country is the distance you put between yourself and your loved ones. Back in California, I had a tight group of friends and a very close relationship with my family. Moving to Dordrecht meant being 10,000 miles and 6 time zones from the people I love the most.
Maintaining a long distance relationship with JP before moving over made keeping strong connections back home slightly easier - at least logistically because I'd tried so many apps and services. Here are my favorite and free ways to stay in touch.
1) Facebook Messenger (desktop & app): I probably use this one the most and several times a day. I enjoy this feature because I often keep Facebook open on my PC's browser - so it almost gives me an AOL instant messenger flashback. Additionally, I have the app installed on my phone so it's similar to text messaging. There's also a group messaging feature that allows me to stay in the loop with specific groups of friends. My final favorite feature is the pluthera of hilarious "stickers" and emojis.
2) Facebook Calling (via Facebook Messenger): This feature in Facebook Messenger deserves its own category. You have the option to connect with a contact for free through voice, not just text. This is an excellent option as long as you have a good connection. I'm always impressed with crystal-clear call quality .
3) Whatsapp: While it's not so big in the States (where unlimited texting plans are quite normal) - Whatsapp is huge over the rest of the world - as it's a free platform to exchange messages without paying for SMS. The app imports your contacts so it's easy to find your friends and allows for groups conversations, photo and video messages.
4) Skype (video & calling): Sometimes you really just want to see someone's face and for that, I use Skype. Since installing the app on my phone (I found being anchored to my desk top quite annoying) I use it weekly - mostly to see my parents (Hi Mom & Dad!).
5) Google Hangouts (chat, video & calling): I use this one the least, not because I don't like it, but that the usage rate amongst my friends/family is quite low. Facebook and Whatsapp automatically connected me to friends using their service - so those became my default. However, Hangouts has some fun features like silly virtual props to add to the person your chatting with and the ability to watch a video on Youtube together.
How do you stay connected with your loved ones? Am I missing your favorite app/service?