Entering a new city for a study abroad program can be a little daunting, but we have found the following apps to be quite helpful for navigating new cities. The best part – they are all completely free!
1. TripAdvisor’s City Guides
The best thing about this app – if you download the information for a city while connected to WiFi, you can use that information offline and without internet access! So, say you decide to go to Paris for the weekend, but you do not have an international data plan on your phone. If you search for Paris and download the city information before you go, you will have access to maps and lots of information while you are walking around Paris without internet connection! The app contains information on restaurants, hotels, top attractions, nightlife, shopping, and tours. There are even suggested itineraries you can follow to ensure you hit all of the main sites. These itineraries tell you background information about the sites, as well as business hours and costs associated with the attraction. For more information, click here.
Skype is always a good choice when you are going to be away from your loved ones for an extended period of time. Skype allows you to make voice and video calls to other Skype users for free. This comes in handy when you are half way around the world and want to see your mother or the dogs you left behind. Skype does a great job of taking the edge off of homesickness. Not to mention it will save you a great deal of money on international calls. Sign up for a free Skype account here.
Viber is another free way for you to keep in touch with those closer ones back home. Viber is like WhatsApp, only it allows you to make calls as well and it is free, unlike WhatsApp which costs $0.99 in the iTunes App Store. You can also send text messages to anyone who also has the app installed on their phone. It is hard to break the habit of texting when you move abroad, so avoid paying for international text messages by using viber. Viber is available on most operating systems including iPhone OS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, and Nokia. You can find more information here.
4. Google Translate
If you are moving to a city where English is not the primary language, Google Translate is a great app to have. Although it is not perfect at translating whole sentences or paragraphs, it gets the job done when you are in the market trying to figure out what kind of milk to buy or if you’re trying to read the directions on your new shampoo. Try the web version to see how you like it. You can also try Interpret, which combines Google and Bing’s search engines.
Snapchat is a free app that allows you to take pictures and short videos and send them to your friends who are also using Snapchat. The catch – your friend can only view the picture or video for a short amount of time (10 seconds or less). So, you can take silly pictures of yourself without worrying whether your friend will blackmail you with it later. For example, if you set the timer to only 3 seconds, once that picture is opened, your friend has exactly 3 seconds to look at it. Once the time has expired, the picture or video is gone forever. More information here.
6. Google Maps
One great thing about the Google Maps app – you don’t have to have internet for it to find you. This means if you are lost in a city, you can pull up the app and find out exactly where you are without paying data roaming fees.
7. Hostel World
Thinking about traveling throughout Europe while you’re studying abroad? Hostel World is a good app to have! It gives you access to thousands of places to stay, as well as reviews, descriptions, and photos. Check out their website here.
8. Converter Plus (Free)
Afraid you are going to make a fatal mistake by trying to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit in your head? Converter Plus allows you to convert anything you need: currency, temperatures, distances, weight, and more. This is very helpful when you’ve just been given directions in kilometers and you have no idea how far you’re supposed to walk before making that right hand turn.
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Did we miss one? Tell us what apps are best for you in the comments!