Oh technology, thou art a double edged sword.
On the one hand, the technological advances have been fantastic. When I was in Germany a couple years ago, the only contact I had with home is a once-weekly phone call. Looking back, I'm not entirely sure how I managed 8 weeks without email, but back then I didn't really use it, I guess (Besides, I should be able to survive w/o email for 8 weeks even now...but with school, it's kind of impossible). Nowadays, between Skype and Facebook, I'm not missing anything more at home than I would if I was in Chicago. Especially Skype is really convenient - first because it's free, but also because I can make my sister show me my room, to ensure that she hasn't taken over it or turned it into a storage facility.
Of course, the downside to knowing what's going on at home also means I know what's going on in Chicago. I've gotten so many Facebook invites to cool events that I would love to go to, save for the fact that I'm about 10,000 miles away right now. Realizing that life goes on without you is a weird feeling, though I hope that doesn't sound too arrogant. I had a RSO committee meeting that was in the Reynolds club, and I was on skype. Getting to see such a familiar landmark, and realizing that all my friends were having a normal school quarter in Chicago was kind of weird. Cognitively, we know life continues regardless of whether you're their or not. But actually seeing it going on is kind of weird...makes you realize that you're pretty expendable, and life won't stop when you die. This post kind of veered off topic from what I was planning, but I guess these musings could lead to a bold statement - studying abroad is like dying? :)