I have been living abroad now, for about 15 years (*gosh*). Since 1992 I have only had short stints back in Sweden a few times, to do some studies.
My first long stay away was as an Au Pair in Paris for a year, in 1992. Back then it wasn't yet cheap to call long distance, the Internet hadn't caught on nor did the common man have mobile phones. My parents used the normal mail to send me newspaper clips from home, and we had a set time at 10 o'clock every Saturday morning when they phoned me and we had a long chat.
When I was a tourist rep, I remember that I used to use the fax machine, to get news home quickly, but of course that only worked if the people at home were equipped with one. I also used to buy phone cards and spend loads of time in phone booths all over Europe.
Even when I started flying in 1998, mobile phones for everybody was quite a novelty. It made it easier to keep in touch though, especially after most people learned how to send sms. Then it all developed quickly the next few years with the Internet: We could chat through msn, the ICQ and later Skype and other similar programs.
Now, I can take a photo with my mobile phone, and instantly send it from my phone to any email address or upload it to this blog. I can talk in real time via my computer with almost anyone of my friends (anyone who has a computer and Internet), I can send movies home the same day they are shot etc. etc.
Yet - we only received about 1/4 of the normal amount of Christmas Cards (and email greetings) we have got the last years... We only received 3 sms each with Happy New Year-greetings (and mine were from people I know here) - and only ONE friend has called us on the normal phone since we have been here. (Yes, and the family, of course).
Why is this? How come it only seems to work one-way?
How come that even though there are all these things I just mentioned to make keeping in touch so easy, it seems like the distance makes people forget about us? Even more so, the further away we are.
Because that's how it feels, like we are "out of sight, out of mind" to many.
I appreciate that everybody nowadays has busy lives, but it doesn't even take a minute to send a quick hello on the Skype or the email. Thanks to the internet, we are all so close!
I also agree that you can care or still be close friends, even though you might not be in touch all the time; all friendships are different. I'm just talking in general - and I know many of my friends who are in similar situations experience the same thing with their friends and family back home.
It must be the distance, right? It must be...