Friday, March 23, 2012

Survival tips in a foreign land part 2: Family!!!

Aside of setting up a local social circle, your life in your new adopted land will never be perfect without your family. No man/woman is an island, there is only so long you can enjoy life as a lone-ranger, away from direct communication with your closest kins.

Some might ask me, since family is so important, why is the only the 2nd most important tip in your series? Well, put it this way, living in a foreign land is not as direct as one thinks it is. A lot of non-family-related issues have to fall in place before you can really decide whether you are willing to call this place your new home, a place where you will live your everyday life with your family. Stay tuned for the final 2 instalments and you will understand what I mean.

The Stranger in Bangkok's survival tips in a foreign land part 2: Family

In this day and age, technology can help us tremendously to keep in touch with almost anyone we want to. The world has literally shrunk. It takes only hours to fly from between countries and a few taps on your mobile phone to reach the ones you miss the most. It is no longer difficult to keep in close contact with your loved ones, even if you are geographically thousands of miles apart. Of course, the out-of-sight-out-of-mind rule stands. Since you are no longer back at home, the folks do not see you anymore and gradually they need to get on with their lives without you, so like in my previous tip, I have to emphasize again that for this to work, the initiative lies well and truly with YOU. I can't say that I am an expert at this, but I feel that I have thus far done a decent job linking with my family and friends back home over the past years, so here's to share a few of my own ways:

1. Online/Mobile chat devices

Unless you are going somewhere so undeveloped that having frequent access to internet is not possible, you cannot be forgiven if you do not capitalise on modern technology to keep in touch with family and friends. When smart phones were not available, Skype, MSN, QQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook (did I miss anything) join the world together. Because of the nature of my job, I am fortunate enough to be online most of the day, and thus find it absolutely no problem communicating with anyone I want to. In fact, I don't  feel isolated at all though I am away.

For those who do not have my luxury, you can't run away now that you hold a smartphone in your hand. Ridiculously powerful apps like Line, Whatsapp, Facetime, Tango etc. allow you to interact with anyone, anytime, anywhere. Poke your head into all the group chats with your friends/cousins, and if there isn't one yet, set one up and invite everyone in! Buy a smartphone for your Dad and Facetime him whenever you want. Life away from home will never be the same again.

2. Blogging

You might or might not embrace this way of communication, but it has worked brilliantly for me (using this blog you are reading now) and some other friends of mine. The reason why I highly recommend blogging is because some stories are worth sharing, but you can't possibly repeat it a thousand times for every different person. By putting them on your blog and updating frequently, even if your family members cannot locate you, they will always have a place to go to to read up on your latest exotic adventures.

3. Make it a point to visit your family frequently

Yes, I know you are busy. I know you are an important figure in your company. I know all the documents require your signature. I even know the people in your adopted country could not care less about Chinese New Year or Christmas, those periods are in fact the busiest time in your company and you really do not want to take leave.

Think again.

Your parents are getting old, your grandparents, even older. Your wife/husband visits your Facebook page a few times a day anticipating status updates. Your kids are growing at an alarming pace irreversibly, getting used to living life without you. Are you sure you don't want to pay them a visit?

4. Get your family here!

Once you have made up your mind that this is the place where you will live in for the immediate future, your next biggest task will be to get your family here. By that, I mean at the very least your spouse and your dependent children (Single folks, if you would like to fulfill this condition by marrying a local spouse, I have no objections either). This is not easy. There is too much to give up back home: your spouses' job (and fantastic income), your kids' stable education, your beautiful house etc...... but if you have decided to get married and live the rest of your lives together till death does you part, isn't it illogical if your career takes over death's duties and keep you apart?

Warning: If you are starting to feel that being apart from your family is actually good, please submit your resignation letter immediately, go home and do something about it.

Trust me, I have been through it before and my family is still adjusting to life in Thailand. A lot has been given up, but we are simply doing our best to make our marriage work. Making the decision to give birth to our son in Thailand with no relatives here to support us is a big step, but one we have bravely taken to make sure that our little family stays together all the time.

Li Li celebrating her first birthday with little Noah!

If I can do it, so can you.


  1. He's even asleep during Li Li's Bday?! haha, he's like the bday sleeper sleeping during even his own full-mth celebration haha-fy

  2. He is his own individual and sleeps when he wants to! I would rather he is sleeping than crying!


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