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January 28, 2009

Keeping inTouch

Being in a foreign place and far from friends and family can be stressful enough without a worldwide financial implosion impacting everything from job security, the price and availability of food and of course, personal safety and security. What to do?

I don't think I'm alone if ...

...I'd put keeping in touch with folks back home first. The last thing you want is people you care about either worrying about you or urging you to get back home.

I was in a certain Asian nation several years ago when circumstances developed that brought my home country and my host country into conflict. The headlines back home were bold and frightening. Travel and educational programs were canceled and students were sent home. Overnight, the markets I went to on a daily basis were unsafe. My family and friends quickly approached panic level.

I hadn't mastered the local phone system, and a simple phone call back home would have made a world of difference.

Skype and email are wonderful but not always accessible - and there might be some (like older family members) who might not be using computers.

A few months ago I found out about a nearly universal and extremely cheap system to call the folks and friends back home (or have them call you) as a local call. You can have it set as a local number back home. It plugs into a computer USB port and works through the internet, and, I've been told, works anywhere in the world you have internet access.

It's called a Magic Jack (you can see it at (http://www.magicjack.com/). It costs about $40 and $20 of that covers the fees for a full year. After the first year it costs $20 a year no matter how much you use it. At this point, Magic Jack only works with USA or Canadian area codes.

Keeping in touch can help you and your people back home rest a bit easier as you travel the world.

I'd love to hear of any other strategies or tips for dealing with the infinite challenges of life across the face of this irreplaceable earth of ours.

Any warnings would be useful - as well as safe havens in the unhinged economy right now. For example, I have heard that South America is relatively financially stable. Anyone have any first hand experience of the best - or worst - out there?

My best to all.

I look forward to your stories.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf spent about six years working for a Native American Tribal College, a few years teaching various humanities, English, writing and ESL courses with the community college system in Washington State (including one year as part of a faculty exchange program with The Beijing Foreign Language University). While in China, Morf was briefly a radio host for CRI (China Radio International) and did recordings for the "English can be enjoyable" book and tape series. Morf currently teaches English and writing for a local technical/vocational college with many international students. Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else likes and unlikely and ridiculous situations.

Morf is also quietly anticipating that unexpected, but lucrative job offer.

Posted by mmorf at January 28, 2009 10:53 PM

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