Keeping in Touch

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It’s pretty obvious but when you live abroad it’s important to keep in touch with your friends and family from home (or other parts of the world). Some connections will weaken with time, which is normal, but it’s a shame to lose touch altogether especially with all of this free technology around us that’s making the world smaller. So what are same of the best ways to do so?

Social media is probably the most popular choice, as most people are already on Facebook. Twitter is good for quick updates and sharing interesting finds. Skype is amazing because you get to talk for free and you can also add money to your account and call/text phones. From a very different perspective, instead of sending a long email, why not write it down on paper? It may seem archaic but snail mail is so personal and fun to receive.

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Snail Mail

Your friends and family will want to hear all about your worldly adventures and you’ll probably get tired of retelling the same stories over and over. So here’s an idea, why not start your own blog? They’re a great way of updating everyone at once and in a way, making your memories more permanent. If you’ve never blogged before, it’s pretty intuitive and can be self taught. If you’re still unsure, there are also tons of websites that teach you how to blog.

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Getting to Know Your New City

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There is no single answer for the best way to get to know your new city, just many suggestions and online findings. If you do a basic Google search you will get some predictable results – the wiki page, the current news, trip advisor, and more travel related links. Wikipedia is a good place to start for basic information (as with most topics) and wikitravel is surprisingly comprehensive. You can buy a country or city guide, with Lonely Planet being the most popular, or you can just check out their website – they also feature a useful forum.

Another great forum, travel community (and much more) is couchsurfing. You can find other travellers, expats and locals who are looking for new friends to check out local happenings.

A great city guide for events is Time Out and a more adventure travel oriented one is National Geographic.

There have also been some shifts away from the giants of travel (like Lonely Planet) to ‘local’ guides, because nobody wants to fall into the tourist trap, right? Like a Local, Spotted by Locals, and With Locals (not free) are some examples.

Or, you can find personal blogs. Sure, blogs can be incredibly subjective but don’t discount them because they can offer some great insights into specific details that websites might not include. Reading a good blog can be a vicarious experience. You can just Google ‘city name + blogs’ or you can use Technorati, a blog database, to find what you’re looking for.

But most importantly, when you’re in your new city, get out there are EXPLORE!

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Los Angeles, USA

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Lisbon, Portugal

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Timisoara, Romania

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Melbourne, Australia

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Seoul, South Korea

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Shanghai, China

Staying Organized

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There is so much information on the internet so where do I start? Luckily for this assignment there were some specific requirements. We have to use:

1) A social network platform – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (yeah, right!). There’s way more out there than I thought! I chose Twitter.

2) A news aggregator – This was a new concept to me and I went with Feedly. I really like it so far and it even inspired me to add an extra research question. There are many lists of the ‘best’ ones, and here’s one of those lists.

3) A blog – Plenty to choose from but I’ve used WordPress before and find it pretty user friendly. Here are some opinions of the best sites to use.

4) A social bookmarking component – Again a new concept for me, I went with Delicious, mostly because I liked the name! I don’t fully see the value of this yet, maybe I have to play around with it more. There’s a whole website dedicated to the best ones.

With all these (free) resources available, I wonder what I’ve been doing with the hours I’ve spent online!