Danya Carithers is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Danya tells us the best apps to use in Florence and during study abroad.
“Where do you want to eat tonight?” That’s the dreaded question that, for some reason nobody is ever able to answer. Finding the right spots to eat, drink, and see while in a foreign place is close to impossible. But with the help of a few apps, this challenge can be tackled. In fact, while studying abroad I’ve discovered a handful of apps that has made my experience a lot simpler and organized, from helping me find the perfect restaurant that’s not too expensive to actually enjoying learning about economical terms to finding the cheapest train ticket to Rome. Here is my list of the top 10 apps that I’ve found most useful while studying abroad:
While studying in Florence, I believe it’s necessary to learn Italian to the best of my ability in order to immerse myself in the Italian culture (and be able to eavesdrop again). I’ve found that the most helpful app is Duolingo, which teaches a wide variety of languages with games and interactive flashcards. This makes learning Italian easy and fun and even, dare I say, addictive.
2. Go Euro
It's a really handy app for weekend travels and figuring out the cheapest and/or fastest routes. It compares the prices of train, bus, and plane tickets from to/from your destination, and lays it out in a simple, easy format.
The name is pretty self-explanatory, but this app allows you to search for hostels according to price, rating, and location. Like Go Euro, it compares all your options and makes planning travels in advance a whole lot easier. I’ve used this app every time I’ve booked a hostel and found all the ratings and comments extremely accurate.
4. Lonely Planet City Guides
This app has 90+ detailed city guides that are perfect for semester-long stays to short, weekend trips. They show places to see, eat, shop, drink, and play as well as provides advice on transportation, phrases, and interesting facts. What I love most about this app, though, is that you can download it in advance and use it when you don’t have Wi-Fi or data.
I’m honestly mad I didn’t know about this app earlier. Foursquare helps you find places to eat (breakfast, lunch, dinner), drink (bars, coffee, tea), nightlife, and things to do. You can put filters on the price, time open, and ratings to narrow down the search. It’s a lot like Yelp, except that it recommends less obvious and touristy places.
6. Sit Or Squat: Restroom Finder
This one is a little ridiculous, but trust me you will thank me one day. Unfortunately, my bladder doesn’t know that I’m in a different country and a 30-minute walk away from my apartment. This app tracks where you are and shows the closest bathrooms to you. I don’t need to say much other than it has been a real life-saver.
VSCO is a photography app that lets you upload photos, edit them with filters and share your photos with other VSCO users. Personally, I don’t use the sharing option (I rather use Instagram) but it’s a great way to edit, save, and have all my pictures laid out in front of me.
This is a communication app that allows me to call, video chat, and text people who don’t have Italian phone numbers. This can be used instead of purchasing and international plan, which saves a lot of money. I’ve also found this extremely helpful for group projects and having to communicate with people all the way in Australia.
This app is for Florence’s public bus transportation system. I use it to plan my routes and most accurately track when buses will be coming to my stop (no more missing a bus by 1 minute and having to wait another 30!).
Quizlet is a study app that lets you create flashcards and teaches you information through tests and different games. You can also search topics to find cards that have been made by other students and teachers. This app allows me to fit in my studies each day while sitting on the bus or waiting in line without having to lug around a heavy backpack and block out time to go to the library.
Nowadays everything is so easy to access through a few taps on our smartphones. The apps’ convenience and simplicity has made it easy to incorporate them into my daily lifestyle and has truly motivated me to plan ahead and become more organized overall (aka become an adult). These have been especially helpful while abroad, but I love them so much that I plan to use them even when I get home to the States. Hope you find them helpful too!
Danya's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned!