Five ways to maintain the bond with friends and family ‘back home’

Moving abroad can be daunting, especially if you’re used to regularly seeing close friends and family. It might not be as easy to drop in for a cup of coffee but with a bit of effort you can maintain and even strengthen your relationships.

Five ways to maintain the bond with friends and family 'back home'
Photo credit: Pexels

If you’re planning a long distance move, you’re probably feeling a wave of different emotions. Starting a new life is scary and exciting but it also doesn’t need to mean leaving the old one behind.

Find out how AXA’s Global Health Plans makes your move abroad much easier

Technology helps people to stay in touch despite the distance and can even act as a safety net following the move. For instance, when you take out a global health plan with AXA you can manage your international health insurance online and, with some of the plans, speak to a doctor by video. Anyone who has previously relocated will know how reassuring it can be to speak to a doctor in your own language, especially when you have children.

Perhaps best of all, technology allows you to easily keep in touch with friends and family, wherever you are in the world. So there’s no need to sit down and pen a five-page letter which takes three weeks to arrive!

Here are five ways to stay in touch with friends and family after the big move.

Video calling

There are plenty of apps which allow you to speak face to face (via video call, not teleportation). If you’re in different timezones, it can help to schedule a regular time to talk – ideally when the whole family is together and there are no tired or hungry children to contend with.

Click here to get support with your international health plan

Some of the most popular video calling apps include Skype, Facebook messenger and WhatsApp. If you’re connected to wifi the video call is totally free, otherwise you’ll be charged for the data you use. So there really is no excuse to not call your mum more often!

Send a letter

Expats no longer need to rely on snail mail to stay in touch with friends and family back home. That said, it’s still much more of an experience to send or receive letter. There’s something more personal about sitting down to read a letter someone has taken the time to write. If you have children, you could also ask them to draw pictures or write short stories to send with the letter – it’s a great way to get them to really think about the person they’re writing to.

…or a message

If you’re worried about things going missing in the post, send what you can over social media or email instead. You may already be speaking regularly by video call but so much happens throughout the day that you might want to share. Especially if you have young children! So get snap happy: take tonnes of photos and share them with friends and family on social media.

Everyday rituals

If you’ve moved abroad with your children, it’s up to you to make sure they feel connected to the people back home. Find ways to make grandparents part of your children’s everyday lives; set up a daily video call so they can read the bedtime story, tell your children stories about their family members or create a photo album that they help to organise. Distance doesn’t need to get in the way of closeness, you might just have to work a little harder.

Reconnect in person

Nothing beats a visit home but it can end up being quite tiring if you try to fit everyone in. Prioritise who you want to see and if you can, get them to come to you. Consider renting a holiday home somewhere central and inviting anyone who wants to see you to come there – it will save you driving up and down the country and tuckering the whole family out.

Find out more about AXA’s global health plans for wherever life takes you

AXA’s global health cover can help you stay in touch with friends and family, but they can protect you and your loved ones every step of the big move. Find out more about AXA’s international health insurance and tick one major relocation task off your list.

Presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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‘Possible link’ between AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, EMA concludes

The European Medicines Agency has come to the conclusion that the unusual blood clots suffered by numerous people around Europe should be considered as rare side effects of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, but that overall the benefits of the jab outweigh the risk.

'Possible link' between AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots, EMA concludes
Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

A statement published online read: “The EMA’s safety committee has concluded today that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.”

The EMA added however that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

While millions of doses of the vaccine developed with Oxford University have been administered, small numbers of people have developed deadly blood clots, which prompted countries including the European Union’s three largest nations – Germany, France and Italy – to temporarily suspend injections pending the EMA investigation.

In March the EMA said the vaccine was “safe and effective” in protecting people against Covid-19 but that it couldn’t rule out a link to blood clots, and that more investigations were needed.

On Wednesday the EMA said the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to be used for all age groups but that people should be told of the possible rare side effects. The announcement came as the UK’s own drugs regulator said the AZ vaccine should now only be given to over 30s.

The EMA said it was “reminding healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination.”

One plausible explanation for the combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is an immune response, the EMA said but that it had not identified any clear risk factors for causing the clots including age or gender.

So far, most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 years of age within two weeks of vaccination. 

The EMA advised that people who have received the vaccine should seek medical assistance immediately if they develop symptoms of this combination of blood clots and low blood platelets.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling in legs, abdominal pain, severe headaches, blurred vision and tiny blood spots under the skin at the sight of the injection.

The EMA committee carried out an in-depth review of 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis reported in the EU drug safety database (EudraVigilance) as of 22 March 2021, 18 of which were fatal

The agency concluded: “COVID-19 is associated with a risk of hospitalisation and death. The reported combination of blood clots and low blood platelets is very rare, and the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing COVID-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.”

Germany, France and Italy have all restarted AstraZeneca vaccines, but in the case of France and Germany with extra guidelines on the age of patients it should be used for. France is currently not administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to under 55s or over 75s.