Whether you are living or working overseas for a short time or not, you may have noticed that you are using the Internet in a different way than before your expatriation. Being away from your family, your friends or sometimes your colleagues means that you need to make the most of the online tools available.

In the last 15 years that I have been away from my country, the Internet has changed my life. At the time of my first expatriation in 1997, I didn’t have an email address, although the  use of emails was already widely spread, I wasn’t prepared. Nowadays, there are hundreds of Internet tools that are available for all to use and some of them are “vital” for us expats.

Out of the hundreds of online tools that I use every day, I have just listed here 5 Internet tools that are particularly useful for expatriates and the expat community.

1 – Skype

I cannot imagine my life without Skype.  Although there are other video conferencing tools out there, it is one of the most convenient ones. I can make free video calls and calls to other Skype users, I make phone calls (local and long distance calls) to landlines and mobile phones for a fraction of the price it would cost me with my Argentine mobile phone. Skype has a wide range of monthly plans depending on your needs and you can choose a range of services such a personal voicemail, a national phone number or an option to divert your Skype calls to your mobile phone.

2- Google docs

I use Google docs nearly everyday to share or keep documents, whether it is for work purposes or for sharing information with my family ( for example, my sister got married recently and before the wedding we were working together on her invitation design, the guest list, sitting plan, etc…). The great thing about Google docs is that you are always working on the latest version of the document (word document, spreadsheet, presentation, etc). You can actually see the changes on the document as they happen whilst another authorised user is amending it. And no need to remember sending the updated document to the others, just click save et voila!

3- LinkedIn

For obvious reasons LinkedIn is on my list of favourite tools. This is a great way to connect with professionals in my new environment by joining local groups or professional groups, to see if anyone within my network can help me make new connectionsOnline Connections in the country or city I going to live and to apply for jobs that are advertised on LinkedIn.

4- Paypal

I cannot say that I was an early adopter of Paypal but now I really see the benefits of having an account. It is still not widely available as a mean of payment but it is very useful for buying online and it saves you from entering your credit card details online.

5- Facebook

Finally Facebook! Well, up to now there hasn’t been any better way of communicating with Friends and Family while being so far away from them (I am closely monitoring Google+, you never know! – I will write a post on Google+ very shortly.). Obviously, you don’t need to be an expat to see the benefits of Facebook but for me, it allows me to abolish distances and stay in touch with everyone. There is something very impersonal about Facebook such as sharing the same informatio  to everyone but with the creation of specific friends list (and giving them different settings) I am able to personalised a little bit my status updates. I also use the Facebook page feature for my website.  Check it out.

What about you? What are your Top 5 online tools?

Leave me your comments below.

Sabine PanneauSabine Panneau
Skype: sabp23
Email: sabine@sabinefep.com
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