Today is the 69th day I have been in Georgia. Or, in other words, the 69th day since I last saw my family. It’s been one hell of an adventure thus far and an experience like none other. It really feels like I have been here much longer and I’m desperately looking forward to what the rest of the year has in store for me.
I’ve thought about my family and friends back home very often during my time in Georgia. Not a day goes by without me thinking about what they’re up to and how things are going for them in Scotland. Before I left in January to come to Georgia, I was curious to see how I would react to being away from my friends and family, the latter particularly so since this is easily the longest time I have ever spent away from them in my entire life. I envisaged ‘culture shock’ setting in sometime around the one to two month mark. Already in my third month of being away, I don’t see this being a problem in the near future, and I have to say the internet has played a significant role in this.
I don’t want to talk at length at the pros and cons of the internet; everyone young and old knows this. Instead, I’d like to talk about how the internet has helped my experience of being away from home - away from friends and family - in a new and in many ways unique culture.
I’ve learned to appreciate the internet more now I am more 2000 miles away from home. The instant forms of communication (in particular Skype and Facebook) have enabled me to keep in touch with loved ones back home. I Skype my family about once a week, and I think it’s great we live in this day and age where things like this are possible. Even going back ten or fifteen years this would have been unheard of. Sometimes it’s crazy to think how far technology has come in recent years.
I really enjoy my Skype chats with my Mum and Dad. We don’t talk for hours, but long enough to share new stories and catch up with things at home, as well as finding out how the rest of the family are doing. To be honest, as much as I talk about the internet helping my experience of being away from home for the first time, I think my Mum and Dad are more grateful for it, as they can keep in touch with their son thousands of miles away to see how he is doing. Perhaps webcams have also enhanced this experience as my parents will be able to see for themselves how I’m doing. Funnily enough, a few weeks ago on Skype my Mum was concerned because she thought I looked down. “No, Mum” I said. “I’m just hungover...”.
Aside from Skype, it’s nice to be able to send short emails to each other whenever we have an opportunity. I’ll sometimes send a quick email to my parents just to give them an update of how I’m doing. In return I’ll often get a new picture of the cat causing mischief around the house. Sounds soppy, I admit, but its things like this that make you smile and can really cheer you up if you’re happening to have a bad day.
Obviously, I miss my family a lot. I think about them every day. But I think the internet has helped a great deal because we can still have the same level of communication, albeit without physically being in the same room as each other. I also think the internet has lessened the chance of me becoming homesick. The likelihood of being homesick would be significantly increased if I did not have access to the internet here; if I was unable to talk to my family for long periods or if I couldn’t find out how they were doing for example. The internet has certainly bridged these gaps and I know if there’s ever a problem, either on my end or their end, we will be able to talk – face to face – on the internet. It’s soothing to know they are only a click away, and here I make my case that the internet has made my experience here in Georgia all the more enjoyable. If I know my family are well and are happy, this gives me the strength and confidence to continue enjoying myself in this magnificent country.