How Living Abroad Brought Me Closer to my Family Back Home

The hardest thing for people living abroad is often the distance with the family back home. I’m no exception. I left France more than four years ago to live in Australia. Being on the other part of the world, 15,000 kilometres from home, is hard for family relationships. It is, at least, a 30-hour trip for a visit. Yet, despite the distance, I’ve never been closer to my family than today.

Of course, I miss to see them physically, and I am not saying that having such a long distance between us is great. There are times when I need to cope with homesickness. To tolerate all the hard moments I go through as an expat thinking about home and all the special things I miss… I wanted to highlight in a post that – although it does feel like this –being far away from family is not entirely negative. It may hopefully help some expats or expats-to-be to put some things in perspective and nurture some positive sides of it.

 

So, how being 15,000 km apart can actually bring us closer?

Long story short. If I were in France, I’d probably see my mother and my father once in a while for lunch or dinner. Sometimes as a duty. It’s of course completely different now that I live abroad.

 

atoll de nokanhui - elo et mamanWhen I get to see them, the joy is extreme

I get excited weeks before we meet. It’s the best thing ever. We are delighted to spend time together. We forget all these little things that may have annoyed us in the past. Only the happiness of being reunited is left. 

On the other hand, when we have to say goodbye, it tears us apart. I had never felt extreme feelings like this before. It’s not easy at all to deal with them, but I find that it creates interesting relationships.

 

When we catch up on the phone, we’re 100% catching up

With a 10-hour difference between France and Australia, we need to be organised when we want to catch up. It does not happen very often, and it does not happen whenever we want. As much as I never use my voice credit on my phone, I am not a big fan of Skype and these types of telecommunication tools. And I refuse to commit to spending my Sunday evenings calling one by one my relatives back home. I’ve always wanted freedom from this. So when we do get to catch up, we’re not cooking at the same time – or doing something else.

 

Email Maman
I’m sharing my joy with my mum: we won the soccer championship!

We write to each other’s

Because of the time difference again, it’s also easier to write an email. I love how much I write to my family. That’s sometimes a lot more interesting than chatting in-person. It brings up some topics we wouldn’t have talked about around a dinner table. With only one recipient, writing allows a one-on-one relationship. It easily gives privacy and an opportunity for creating a different communication.

For example, I often have lengthy exchanges with my father about politics and sociology, based on news articles we find and share. It’s fascinating to hear each others’ point of views. I’m not sure I would spend that much time maintaining these written discussions if we saw each other often.

 

I share more about my personal events

I also share a lot more about my events than before moving to Australia. I don’t mean very personal things, but stuff like my routine. I don’t think I would take the time to send photos of my day-to-day life if I were still in France. Because it would not be exciting at all – they would already know my routine. And I would see them soon, so I could tell them later… or never, as I may forget!

 

Pirogue Oro New Caledonia
Family trip on a boat on the Isle of Pines

We share better quality time

In France, the activities I had with my family were limited. We did do some short excursions around where they live. But as adults, we would have never thought about going on a trip together. I mean, I’d go on a trip with my friends or just with my partner… But with my parents…?! I would not even think about it.

But now, visiting one another is a trip. It then makes sense to consider travelling together. A few years ago, I spent a weekend with my mother and my brother on the Great Ocean Road, near Melbourne. It was the first time we were the three of us together on a plane. We had a fantastic time. Last summer, we went all together with our partners on a 2-week holiday trip to New Caledonia. We shared unforgettable moments. We would have never imagined sharing such an adventure together as a family.

When I visited back home, we did a short road trip from Bordeaux to the Loire Valley.

 

HappyI’m happy

I have found an excellent balance and an incredible way of life in Queensland. I’m blooming down there. I’m closer to Nature, and I get to do the activities I love every weekend. It fits me so much more than the life I had in the suburbs of Paris. Not physically seeing my family is a hard price to pay, but in the end, I am happy in my life. And for my loved ones, that’s probably the most important thing. Although it does not reduce the envy to see each other’s, it helps support the distance. And when you’re happy, you often have healthier relationships.

 

 

What about you? How do you deal with your family relationships when you travel? I’d love to hear your experience; please leave a comment below!

 

living abroad

SaveSave

13 thoughts on “How Living Abroad Brought Me Closer to my Family Back Home

  1. I really enjoyed reading this, you make some great points. The distance definitely makes you appreciate your family a lot more :) And I think the same can also be said for a long-distance relationship.

    1. Thank you, Shannon. A long distance relationship sounds more challenging to me as the physical need is a lot greater, but I actually don’t have the experience to judge this one ;)

  2. Since we have been traveling full time for 7 years now, I can relate to all that you are saying. We try to visit them at least once a year or else hold a reunion somewhere everybody agrees upon!

  3. Dave (Silverbackpacker)

    - Edit

    Reply

    Having lived abroad for many years now as well as travelling i agree with everything you wrote. Communication is very easy these days with the internet and all the different mobile apps .
    When the family get back together we spend quality time with each otheras we never know when the next “Clan” meet will take place. But I still miss everyone when they are not around.

  4. Thats absolutely so damn true. I just always felt a need to connect with family when I was away for an year. At first, I was a bit “blase” but whenever something real happened – some issues back home or some major festivals – I really wanted to just go home and HUG the shit outta everyone. haha

  5. what a lovely post! I live a long way away from my family and a 6h time difference can make talking tricky. But you are right that this makes you value the communication more!

  6. I have to agree. I don’t live THAT far from my family, but they are several states over and I feel like my relationship with them is way stronger now than when we were in the same town.

  7. I know what you mean Eloise. My brother moved to Slovakia and I am in Sydney but we catch up on video chat at least every other week and I feel like I see much more of him and make more of an effort to stay in touch than I did when we lived in Sydney too. We also now have a reason to travel to Europe every few years to it’s a win win.

  8. Karla (Karla Around The World)

    - Edit

    Reply

    I really agree with everything you said. It’s really the distance that makes us grow fonder of each other.

  9. Vicki @ MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld

    - Edit

    Reply

    Hi Eloise, I’m a UK expat living in Melbourne, and my parents now live in Spain – so I can completely relate to your post! I love that when I skype my parents, we actually catch up – and as we only do so once a week, we always have something to talk about! TBH I found that I physically speak to my parents more when they are not visiting – because when they are here, they are just here!
    Great to hear you have found your balance and can appreciate your family more from being so far away :-)
    Happy Travels!

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Vicki! UK, Spain, Melbourne… Is the travel bug inborn? I wouldn’t say that what I have found is a balance, I don’t think I’ll ever be happier to be far away from them than physically with them. It’s just that there are not only negative sides, and my life happiness isn’t all about my family. So realising this can make it a bit easier, sometimes :)

  10. I agree with just about all of the things you have shared. I don’t know if living so far away has brought me closer to my family, but it sure does make me appreciate them more. I can most identify with the joy and excitement for seeing them! I am headed home to the US in one month for a week and am SOOO excited! I cannot wait to see my family and friends and animals! It is really nice to have something that makes you so excited to look forward to!

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.