Best Study Abroad Apps

by Diana Mabag

If you are preparing to study abroad, chances are you are thinking of possible issues you might face in a country far from home. What if you get a nasty case of homesickness or have difficulty understanding a local language? Or maybe you want to share some of your experiences in real time, with loved ones back home.

Fortunately, several smartphone applications are now available to solve those issues and more. Here is a list of the 10 most helpful apps you can use while you are studying abroad.

Skype

1. Skype 

This free, Estonia-based app makes it easy to talk with people anywhere in the world. This app can let you send messages, make phone calls, or video chat with one or more people, in one or more locations, via video calls and conferencing. You can instantly show them everything you are seeing at that moment. The downside is that if you place a regular call to a mobile number or use the video conference feature, you will need to pay a certain amount.

2. Viber 

This instant messenger and voice-over application lets you send text messages and call for free. Not only that, you can also send pictures, icons, and voice and video messages. Unfortunately for those studying abroad in Lebanon, Viber does not work there (the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications has blocked Viber because of its Israeli origin).

3. iTranslate 

This handy translation tool developed by Sonico GmbH will help you break the jitters associated with the difficulties of understanding or speaking a foreign language. This app can translate the following languages into English: Arabic, Bokmal, Norwegian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish.

Viber

4. iPronunciation

Another translation tool. This app lets you speak foreign words correctly, helping you avoid mispronouncing words. With the support of Google Translate and Bing Translate, iPronunciation can help with 53 different languages. Type in the word or sentence and this app will pronounce it for you.

5. Word Lens 

If you are having trouble reading road signs, the local newspaper, or even a menu, Word Lens will help you understand. Simply point your smartphone camera at the text and, voila, instant translation! This app works even without an Internet connection — talk about convenient.

6. XE Currency 

Exchange rates are always changing, so it pays to be alert. This application lets you convert any currency to the currency of your choice. The app is free and features real-time rates.

7. Instagram

This photo and social media app lets you take pictures, apply filters on them, and share them online to your friends — both on Instagram and via other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This is an invaluable tool for making scrapbooks or online journals of your experiences abroad.

8. Photosynth 

With this cool app, you can take photographs and apply 3D effects on them. Photosynth is easy to use and lets you take panorama shots from different angles: left-to-right, right-to-left, and top-to-bottom.

9. SitOrSquat 

When nature calls in a strange place, SitOrSquat helps you find the nearest public toilet. This app has a database of more than 100,000 bathrooms worldwide and is constantly being updated by users. The toilets are rated for cleanliness and other measures. You can add bathrooms to the database and add your ranking. Rate these toilets: Sit if you like it, or Squat if it needs improvement.

A man using his phone

10. AroundMe 

This popular application can help you find the nearest bank, hotel, grocery store, or just about anyplace you want to go. It will identify your position via GPS and then give you a list of the nearest places of interest. You can also opt to view them on a map rather than a list.

Here's a bonus:

11. GoAbroad.net 

Although this isn’t a mobile app, it deserves special mention as a useful website for travelers, particularly international students. The GoAbroad Network is where you go to get the real deal from people who have volunteered, traveled, interned, taught, or studied abroad in places that interest you. This website lets travelers share their adventures through photographs and journals. It even lets you send electronic postcards for quick and easy updates to relatives and friends.