About a week before I left my home in Boston to study abroad at the University of Wollongong in Australia, I looked at my dad and said, “I’m scared. I’m so nervous to move across the world away from everything I know.” He looked back at me and said, “We’re always here looking out for you and are only a call away if you need anything.” And in this age of technology, he was right. At every airport where I had a layover on the way from Boston to Sydney, I searched for WiFi to update my parents. And when I arrived in Australia, I consistently e-mailed my parents with thorough updates, giving them every detail of trips I planned and what I was doing, making sure they knew I was safe.
The first thing I did when I arrived at International House, my dorm in Australia, was connect to the WiFi. In addition to messaging my parents, I messaged my brother, sister, and closest friends and sent a Snapchat to almost everyone I have in my contacts, promising to talk to them all soon. I then talked to friends and family through Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and GroupMe regularly for the first couple of weeks before uni started.
On the day that I arrived, the time difference between Boston and Wollongong wasn’t much of an issue since it was so early in the morning here that it was still the evening before there. Within minutes of sending messages and Snapchats, I had responses flooding back. But as the day continued, it turned to night in the United States and people stopped responding. Luckily, I had been able to talk to my closest family and friends and was excitedly exploring my new home and meeting new people, so this inability to talk to them didn’t bother me.
In fact, I was so busy trying new things and meeting people that I didn’t find time to Skype my family until I’d been abroad for almost two weeks, despite us promising to Skype soon after I arrived. Skype was also the form of communication that was most impacted by time zones because with my family’s varying school and work schedules and a fourteen hour or more time difference, it proved difficult to find more than once biweekly that worked for all of us.
Skyping with my family
In the first part of my study abroad experience in Australia, I was in almost constant contact with friends and family from the United States via a variety of messaging apps and hardly noticed the huge time difference, aside from when using Skype, which proved difficult to coordinate and I therefore used less than expected.
The following video encompasses a lot of different ways that I used to stay in contact with family and friends while studying abroad, proving that the mediums of communication I use are used by many people.
Video sourced from here.
Click here to see Sam’s initial experience communicating while abroad.