I feel incredibly lucky to be living across the ocean from where I grew up. I feel even luckier to have such easy ways to connect with everyone I had to leave back in the U.S.
I just finished a lengthy conversation via Google Hangouts that included my parents, my brother, and my sister-in-law. We live in three different cities and connected with four different devices. One of the worst things about my transcontinental move was ending up even farther away from my immediate family, so this conversation was no small thing for me.
I can’t even imagine making a move like this in the days when you had to say goodbye and get on a boat, expecting to never see those people again. The days when a letter was the most contact you could hope to have with distant relatives. How isolating it must have been, how scary, to lose the contact and support of those who know and love you most.
These days, when I feel lonely I can make a Skype call, have a Google Hangout, write an email, share photos, and keep up with my friends’ and family’s lives via Facebook. On Christmas day, my family set up a transcontinental video feed so we could all open presents “together.” Nothing will replace being with them in person, but technology provides a pretty fantastic replacement.