The time for study abroad has finally come. Your backpack is ready. Your suitcase is ready. Your parents are ready. You are about as ready as you will ever be. But wait a minute? What about your phone? Yeah, I’m talking about that rectangular extension of yourself. Is it prepared for your study abroad trip?
Well whadya know! I’m ready to help. Here are 10 apps you need to download before stepping onto the plane. And guess what? Because I understand that we are miserable college students who must reserve our nonexistent savings for important things like textbooks and Starbucks frappucinos, all ten of these apps are completely free.
I used the free version of TripIt for my last trip abroad and was extremely pleased. First of all, keeping all your travel info (reservations, tickets, departure times, etc…) in one place helped keep a huge weight off my shoulders.The best part is that importing all your info is as easy as forwarding email receipts to the app. I didn’t have to spend the time to manually import any info!
Do you need a theater? Pharmacy? Food? Goodness, you need food NOW, but you can’t even read the road signs? This app can help you find directions and offers reviews about your potential destinations.
When you make it all the way to a foreign country to study abroad, you’d better not stay stuck in your dorm room every weekend. Rome2Rio is a great app for planning those weekend excursions exploring your host country! All you have to do is type in where you are and where you want to go and it will show you the best ways to get there (cheapest, fastest, etc…) be it by car, plane, public transport, or a mix of the three. The app will then link you to the websites you need to start booking tickets.
Finding proper relievement facilities abroad is often harder than it should be. Thank goodness there is now an app for that. *cue party/potty dance of joy*
Leaving your friends and family behind to travel can be tough. It is important to have easy ways to stay in touch with them. Unfortunately, foreign phone plans are horribly complicated and expensive. Fortunately, there are apps that allow you to talk, text, and video chat for free (as long as you have internet access). These two apps are widely popular in both South America and Europe, so you can use them to stay in touch with the friends you meet as well.
They are both great… which one you use depends on where you are going. In my observation, WhatsApp is more popular in Europe, whereas Viber is a bigger deal in South America.
6. WiFi finder
Finding Wi-Fi can also be difficult. This app helps you identify strong connections near you.
Tip: if you DO get a foreign data plan, make sure your phone company does not require you to use their special Wi-Fi finder. I had an ATT plan and they provided me with an ATT brand wifi finder app that I was required to use.
Postagram allows you design beautiful customized postcards using your iPhone pictures. I love it because the custom photos make your postcards extra special, plus they are delivered in a timely fashion. My postagram photo was delivered within one week, whereas my ordinary postcard (which costed just as much) didn’t get to my family until I had already returned home (embarrassing?).
Food, tours, souvenirs, there are so many wonderful ways to spend money while abroad. Mint helps you to create budgets and maintain them. The design is so pretty that it almost makes that dreaded task fun.
Chances are you are going to need to convert something. Miles to kilometers? Cups to grams? Chances are you are not a mathematics major and do not do such calculations in your head for the fun of it. Okay, maybe your are. I’m not. So I am pretty much saving your life by listing the BEST converter. You can convert anything! Weight, distance, temperature, the whole nine yards (or should that be 822.96 centimeters?).
10. Google Translate
Ahem… having a good translator app is KEY people, absolutely KEY. Even if you are going to another country whose language you are familiar with. Like say… England! The chances that you are going to run into someone who does not speak English is MUCH higher than in America. So just #embrace the lovely new languages and broaden your horizons by learning to talk to people without actually knowing how to talk to them. Ah, it is times like these in which I love technology.
Languages offers 12 offline dictionaries. Considering the fact that Wi-Fi can be 1. extremely hard to find and 2. ridiculously expensive, I’d say it is not a bad investment. The intuitive design (cocreated by none other than my own incredibly talented older brother) makes looking up words so easy that using the dictionary is almost as fast as a whole hog online translator.
Once again, I may be slightly biased since this app was created by my brother, but with all the excitement of a new land to be explore and a new culture to understand, sometimes classes get put to the back burner. Getting grades is (unfortunately?) still an important part of the study abroad experience. Grades helps students keep track of their assignments, group projects, and deadlines and will tell you what you need on your next assignments to maintain or achieve your target grade.
TripJournal allows you to use gps tracking, maps, notes, photos, and videos to create beautiful interactive travel journals that you can share with your friends and family.