Whether you are studying at an international institution for a semester, a year, or your entire college career, you will undoubtedly run into some technical, geographical, cultural, and academic challenges. Fortunately, major advances in technology and social networking have made the transition from one culture to another a bit smoother than it may have been in the past.
If you are planning on studying in a foreign country, consider downloading some of the following apps before setting off on your journey:
1. Google Maps
One of the most obvious challenges for an individual who is traveling in or moving to an unfamiliar place is navigating the terrain. With Google Maps, you can view a map of your city or town, receive and print directions from one location to another, and even navigate with turn-by-turn directions that utilize your smartphone’s GPS function. Google Maps can also detect your location, and then suggest restaurants, stores, and other conveniences that are in your vicinity.
Although technology has dramatically changed the ways in which we live our lives, there are some travel items that remain difficult—like overseas telephone calls. If you are planning to use your current cell phone while studying abroad, it is important that you speak with your provider to ensure that you will be able to do so, and that it will not cost you a significant amount of money.
Whether or not you will be using your cell phone very often, consider downloading the Skype app for your computer and smartphone. This app will allow you to make international video calls for free, so long as all parties have a Skype account.
3. SoundNote (or a similar app)
As a college student, you will be taking notes quite frequently. While this may seem like a simple task, dividing your attention between listening and writing can be challenging. This, of course, is even truer when you are taking notes in a second language.
With the SoundNote app, you can take notes while the app tracks what you write, and also records the lecture or presentation. When you refer to your notes at a later time, you can simply tap on a word or phrase, and SoundNote will bring you to the precise point in the recording to which your notes refer.
4. Google Translate
If you have been accepted to an international university, you have likely had to pass the TOEFL or otherwise demonstrate proficiency in a second language. Nevertheless, there is a strong chance that you will have moments when you struggle with certain words or phrases.
When this happens, the Google Translate app is great for translating words or phrases into your native language. It is also capable of translating signs or other printed text. For example, if you pointed your smartphone at a street sign, the app could translate the text on the sign into many different languages.
Relocating to a new city—even for a short duration—is challenging for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you will not know many people. Luckily, the Meetup app might be just the app you need to help you get settled in your new home. Like Google Maps, Meetup uses your GPS to find social groups and events near you, based on information about your interests that you provide.
David White is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.