In the post below, Ashley shares her top 5 apps for study abroad.
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Having a smartphone abroad can actually be really useful if you have the right apps on it. I use my phone all the time in Ireland to document my time here, navigate the streets, and much more. While there's a multitude of apps out there, I have narrowed down all of my apps to these five essential ones:
1. GOOGLE MAPS. This is by far the most essential app I use while studying here in Dublin. Unfortunately, I was not gifted with a great sense of direction, and am often getting lost in my hometown or at school. Finding my way around foreign cities has always been a difficulty. Google Maps solves all of those problems for me and makes finding my way around a lot less stressful than using a standard map or going by memory. Although there is already a Maps app installed on most phones (or at least iPhones), Google Maps is better because it also includes the bus, train, and rail schedules. The only real downside of this app is that it does use data, so only someone with a smartphone and preferably an Irish sim card can realistically use it. To me, this is well worth the data and I have yet to get lost in Dublin or any other city I have visited during my summer abroad.
2. WHATSAPP. This app is essential for keeping in touch with friends and family back in the United States, especially if you forgo an international cellular plan and opt for an Irish sim card. An Irish sim card will give you more data and, from personal experience, is the better choice compared to the international plan, but it will unfortunately change your phone number for the time being. While iMessages to your phone will still use data and won’t occur additional international costs, it can still be difficult for friends and family to keep up with your new number back home. Also, if you travel to another country for a short trip and get a new sim card there your number will once again change. That is why WhatsApp is the perfect solution for this, as it is connected to your Facebook and stays consistent throughout sim card changes. Family and friends will always be able to reach you as needed.
3. FIND MY IPHONE. As someone who brings her phone with her everywhere and then constantly misplaces it, Find My iPhone is a life-saving app. Once it is downloaded onto your phone you can then log in with your Apple ID to any other phone with the app and GPS locate your phone. Even better, though, you can use someone else's phone to make yours start ringing, even if it was on silent, in order to locate it easier. It sounds simple, but in that moment of panic when you can’t find your phone in a foreign country, it definitely eases the burden.
4. PHOTO EDITOR. While studying abroad, especially in a place as beautiful as Ireland, you will more than likely take a few (or tons) of pictures. These are pictures you will always look back on and, while it is almost impossible to capture the beauty of some places in Ireland on camera, I think that this app helps tremendously. It is free and has all sorts of edits available, but my favorite and the most useful is the “Scenery Effect”. I feel like this effect makes landscape photos look like they were taken with a professional camera and helps bring out the beautiful colors found here in Ireland. I use this app all the time, whether I’m posting the pictures to Instagram, Facebook, or just keeping them on my phone to look back on.
5. VENMO. Venmo is similar to a bank app that is connected to your Facebook and, therefore, your friends. It makes transferring money between debit cards, credit cards, and bank accounts a breeze, which is more than useful when studying abroad. For some reason in Europe a lot of places dislike splitting the bill individually at meals, so, unless everyone has cash to use, this is when Venmo comes in handy. Your parents can also transfer money to your bank account this way, which is probably most people’s favorite feature (thanks mom and dad!).
See also: 41 Apps for Study Abroad